Last week from 2nd to 6th February the Human Brain Project’s (HBP) Ethics Support team was at the HBP Open Day and Summit 2020 in Athens, Greece. These events provided great opportunities to reflect on the work done in the previous seven years of the HBP and plan the remaining three years of the project as well as the future EBRAINS infrastructure that should be part of the HBP legacy. Ethics and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) themes featured prominently during these four days in Athens.
At the Open Day, the HBP welcomed many visitors who could learn about the HBP research at the Science Agora and an engaging programme of talks and sessions about brain research. It was opened by the Greek President Prokopios Pavlopoulos. Among the HBP scientific achievements, the HBP Scientific Research Director Katrin Amunts in her introductory speech also mentioned the guidelines for data protection and dual use for RRI prepared by the HBP Ethics and Society Sub-project. During the panel session ‘Brain Initiative Around the World’, the Ethics and Society Sub-project leader Kathinka Evers highlighted the role of social sciences and humanities in the HBP. At the Science Agora, ethics and RRI themes were represented in the posters on the Ethics and Society Sub-project and responsible dual use work.
RRI from the HBP to EBRAINS
The Open Day was followed by the three-day HBP Summit which brought together 537 participants including 88 students. At the plenary session ‘Curated and shared data: EBRAINS data services – neuroscience data publishing’, Ethics Support Research Fellow William Knight talked about responsible international data governance emphasizing the high standard of HBP ethics and data governance work that EBRAINS can build upon. This topic was further elaborated at the parallel session on RRI and data governance which highlighted the need during the final HBP funding phase (April 2020 – March 2023) to reflect on lessons learned from applying RRI approach in the HBP and build on that to develop good practices for EBRAINS and other initiatives. Another parallel session focused on one area where the HBP is applying the RRI approach, namely, addressing dual use and misuse of neuro-ICT technologies.
The Summit concluded with spotlight talks on short-, mid- and long-term perspectives of neuroscience. In her spotlight talk on neuroethics, Arleen Salles highlighted the work of the Neuroethics Working Group of the International Brain Initiative and the HBP contribution the global neuroethics debates.