The PiE (Puzzle-solving in Ethics) Model

Ethics is about answering one crucial question: “What is the right thing to do?”

In practice, we often seem to forget this main purpose of ethics and get lost in rules, regulations, and approvals. Real ethical questions are like puzzles: We do not know the right answer in these complex situations.

The PiE (puzzle-solving in ethics) Model focuses on this main purpose of ethics in a systematic manner, integrating ethical puzzle-solving into the whole process of innovation to ensure that ethical issues are handled in the right way and at the right time.


How does the PiE model work?

Innovation happens when technology breaks into a domain. When wearables are used for health purposes, when internet becomes a part of telecommunication, when visual recognition finds its way into transportation. Ethical puzzles arise when technology enters into a domain and, as a result, into our lives. To address ethical concerns and problems, PiE model

approaches ethical issues as puzzles to be solved,

integrates ethics solutions into every stage of innovation,

combines the expertise of ethical puzzle-solving with innovation- and domain-expertise.

Specifically, we make the PiE model a part of the innovation process by providing:

    • ETHICS ROADMAP to assess the ethics risks and ethical readiness of the organization and designing an action-plan;
    • ETHICS ANALYSIS for complex ethical puzzles that require ethics expertise to find solutions or to determine a set of justifiable options to choose from;
    • ETHICS STRATEGY to define operating procedures for recurrent complex ethical issues by setting organizational principles and processes; and
    • ETHICS TRAINING to equip creators of technology (i.e., developers, designers, engineers, researchers) to become “first-responders” to detect, flag, and if possible, eliminate ethical issues.

The PiE model is about finding the right choices for making technology better.

It is not about ethics oversight and compliance, code of conduct, and ethics approvals. It is not about “policing” for bad behavior.

We respect technology experts and our goal is to help them create better innovations. The PiE model combines our expertise to find solutions for ethical problems with the creators’ and leaders’ expertise in innovation.


Read our Forbes AI article, “A New Model for AI Ethics in R&D”, for more information on our model.

Watch the Lab’s director, Cansu Canca, present our model at Harvard Business School Digital Initiative, Digital Transformation Summit.


(Featured image with changes: fdecomite on Visual hunt / CC BY)