The ethical concept of the MERLOT project

The task of the Center for Cognitive Science (CCS) in MERLOT

Within the larger MERLOT project, the Center for Cognitive Science (CCS) deals, among other things, with the ethical, legal and social impact (ELSI) of the developed MERLOT solutions.

This includes conducting studies with different groups of the target audience as well as conducting workshops with different stakeholders to investigate different aspects of the MERLOT solution and to identify potential problems. Furthermore, ethical considerations using a variety of scientifically tested methods will take place.

The CCS analyzes and compiles these scientific findings for the project partners and the broader public in the form of documents and publications to share these findings with as many people as possible. The first such document represented the first version of MERLOT’s ethics concept in July 2022. In creating the ethics concept, the CCS sought to capture the perspectives and goals of all partners through interviews and workshops, and to ethically review the insights gained.

Why is an ethics concept important?

In a modern information society, the collection and use of personal data is on everybody’s mind. Most readers will have heard more and more about AI and automated data processing in recent weeks and months given the prevalence of ChatGPT and other large language models in the current public discussion. As a part of the European Gaia-X endeavor, the MERLOT partners are particularly concerned about handling personal data in a privacy-compliant manner.

In view of these developments, an ethical concept is centralto ensure secure handling of all processed data in MERLOT. Ethical tools such as ELSI-SAT and MEESTAR were and are used to investigate whether a system such as MERLOT handles user data in a secure and trustworthy manner. These tools examine dimensions such as privacy, fairness, but also user autonomy and transparency – the central question of the ethics concept is: can users of the planned MERLOT solutions be sure that their data will be kept safe and cannot be accessed by unauthorized third parties?

In a first version, CCS was able to answer this question with yes – as ELSI representatives, we keep a close eye on the development process and advise our consortium partners to guarantee an ELSI-compliant development – just as MERLOT and Gaia-X are constantly evolving over the project duration, the ethical consideration is also constantly updated and adapted to new developments.

If you have any questions, please contact Felix Hekele (felix.hekele(at)