Integrated Research for Work Innovations

  Two students are programming a robot with the help of a computer Copyright: © Mario Irrmischer  

When you think of research, the first thing that comes to mind, especially in Aachen, is the construction of machinery, the design of components, but also the founding of start-ups. You have to ask yourself: Do the scientists have a feeling for the “world out there” and do they think about the (future) consequences of their research?

This is exactly what is being done at the IAW – Institut für Arbeitswissenschaft (Institute of Industrial Engineering and Ergonomics). Besides research into innovative technologies, there is a particular focus on ethical, legal and social aspects/implications (abbreviated as ELSA or ELSI). The thought here is that an early recognition of undesired ELSI/ELSA effects, will help the science community to deal with these issues constructively. This is done in the context of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI for short), which describes the effects of development processes on the environment and society.

You might, very rightly, ask: It's all well and good that ethical, legal and social issues are addressed, but how exactly is this to be done? The AMICAI method deals with this very question. AMICAI stands for “Aachen Method for Identification, Classification and risk Analysis of Innovation-based Problems”. This approach provides methodological support for the sustainable integration of ELSI/ELSA into areas of research and development.

In conclusion, you might ask: This all sounds nice, but how is this going to help address future problems? To fill this gap, we take up another cross-disciplinary branch of science. Innovation and futures research studies the future. It has several concepts, methods and theories at its disposal, with the help of which an attempt is made to make this very abstract concept of the future more concrete and tangible.