Intelligent Systems Ethics Group (ISE)

The Intelligent Systems Ethics (ISE) was founded in 2021 by Dr. Marcello Ienca and embedded in the CDH Direction. The group systematically explores the ethical, legal, social and policy implications of emerging technologies, with special focus on technologies that interface, augment, mimic or simulate the human brain and mind. These include Artificial Intelligence (AI), cognitive assistants, Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs), neural implants etc.

Our group leverages both theoretical and empirical methods to explore requirements for responsible innovation, ethically-aligned and user-centered design, human-centered technology development and assessment. We also study the human rights implications of emerging technologies and have launched a new field of research at the intersection of neuroscience and human rights known as ‘neurorights’. Our ultimate goal is developing a unified theoretical and ethical approach to the study of both natural and artificial cognition.

The group is also collaborating with leading governmental and intergovernmental organizations involved in science and technology policy such as the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Steering Committee on Neurotechnology, the Committee on Bioethics of the Council of Europe (CoE), the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator (GESDA) and the G7.

Our current research priority is studying the functional integration of AI into cutting-edge BCIs and the resulting bidirectional exchange between biological and artificial cognition, a dynamic we labelled the ‘hybrid mind’. Thanks to generous funding from the ERA-NET Neuron scheme, we are conducting the largest-of-its-kind multi-site study on the impact of neural protests on users’ subjective experience and their associated ethical-legal implications.

Teaching activities at the ISE Group: the members of the ISE Group are giving courses on the ethics of emerging technologies in the SHS program.


  • Dr. Marcello Ienca (Group Leader)
  • Dr. Georg Starke (Postdoc)
  • Dr. Ambra D’Imperio (Clinical Affiliate Member)
  • Ms. Julie Moonga (Visiting PhD Student)
  • Mr. Giuseppe Comerci (Visiting PhD Student)


September, 2022 – Workshop on ethics of AI in healthcare

The integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into clinical care evolves and progresses rapidly, moving from diagnostic image analysis in radiology and dermatology to ever more complex applications such as predictions in intensive care units or psychiatric care. The most intricate ethical challenges arising from such AI systems in medicine are linked to epistemological questions, especially when the very design of a system renders it opaque to human understanding and threatens trust in its use.