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"We can't afford not to focus on digital ethics"

Through Holo’s joint efforts in developing and testing our toolkit The Digital Ethics Compass, they exemplify how applying ethical practices is essential in shaping the future of sustainable and safe autonomous mobility that puts humans first

The Danish corporate startup Holo works to make autonomous driving work for everyone – from the end-users riding in vehicles to companies adding autonomy to existing mobility or freight services to vehicle vendors developing their technology.

When it comes to implementing technology in autonomous vehicles, many life-defining decisions need to be made before the first trials even occur. In everyday speech, we describe them as ethical dilemmas, often involving how the autonomous vehicle will behave in different situations – mainly in cases where real human lives are at stake.

Based on the calculations of clever engineers and experts, these actions determine whether the company survives in the long term.

Thus, the work with digital ethics is an absolute key pillar in Holo’s business model and why they actively integrate digital ethics into every strategic decision.

"We cannot afford not to focus on digital ethics. It is a fundamental part of our business and our survival"

Christian Bering

CEO, Holo

christian bering

Christian Bering, CEO at Holo

The Results: Safety first

Participating in workshops and co-creating The Digital Ethics Compass has significantly enhanced Holo’s understanding of ethical considerations, impacting product development and daily operations. This has led the company to: 

  • An increased awareness of the importance: The Digital Ethics Compass has reinforced our understanding of the importance of focusing on digital ethics.
  • Asking the right questions for suppliers: The compass has strengthened Holo’s formulation of questions for technology suppliers, mainly regarding ‘black box’ algorithms and output validation.
  • A new internal training program: Ethics has also influenced Holo’s training program for safety personnel, with insights from the Digital Ethics Compass co-shaping the content.

“In general, we have a culture that puts safety first. Actively working with and co-creating the Digital Ethics Compass has only increased our awareness of the importance of this area. It’s about challenging your suppliers and asking the right questions,” Christian Bering, CEO of Holo, adds.

"In general, we have a culture that puts safety first. Actively working with and co-creating the Digital Ethics Compass has only increased our awareness of the importance of this area. It's about challenging your suppliers and asking the right questions"

Christian Bering

CEO, Holo

The Challenge: Maintaining patience

According to Christian Bering, building a more efficient autonomous transportation and logistics system will enable better quality service while utilizing fewer resources, resulting in better customer experiences and more sustainable transport and logistics solutions. 

Looking at this from the outside, it’s a promise that many customers, especially technology suppliers, want to incorporate into their business models.

As Christian describes, customers might be under pressure to get their vehicles on the street, which can lead to an urge to rush things.

Holo warns, however, that the hasty introduction of new technology can endanger both Holo and the customer.

“In the competitive race to market products, the emphasis often shifts to speed, pushing technology onto the streets prematurely. However, if this push occurs before the technology is fully ready, leading to incidents or harm, it poses an existential threat. There is no way we can allow that to happen at Holo.”

He adds that this risk extends beyond Holo, affecting suppliers, customers, and their future projects. “It’s a stark reminder that in our haste to advance, we must also prioritize readiness, digital ethics, and safety, not just for our company’s sake but for the broader value chain connected to our work.” 

To emphasize the importance, Holo is also taking steps to influence legislation and is working with the authorities in Denmark and other Nordic countries to improve legislation related to autonomous driving and the ethical aspects involved.

"We must prioritize readiness, digital ethics, and safety, not just for our company's sake but for the broader value chain connected to our work"

Christian Bering

CEO, Holo

The Approach: Sharpening our focus

Ethics is and will always be closely linked to all decisions made at Holo. However, working with Compass has sparked meaningful and vital conversations about what matters most to the company as they develop technology that can potentially change the future of autonomous vehicles.

“Acting ethically is absolutely critical to our work, and although we have long had a shared understanding of how to act and work ethically, the Digital Ethics Compass has raised our awareness.”

Christian adds that the sharpened focus on digital ethics also proves an advantage in the current trials with autonomous passenger vehicles for the Norwegian public transport company Ruter.

“Advancing to the next test phase will bring us significantly closer to achieving our goal of deploying real self-driving vehicles on public roads.”

The Digital Ethics Compass was developed in collaboration with digital strategist Peter Svarre and the three design partners – the agencies 1508, Charlie Tango, and Acceleration, along with two other Danish frontrunner companies, Corti and Danske Bank, Holo also co-designed and tested the compass in practice.

You can try the Compass here.

About Holo

The Danish company Holo is experimenting with autonomous passenger vehicles and other autonomous technologies in various Nordic countries and is currently moving forward in the Norwegian market. They do not build vehicles or software but implement and operate them as part of the existing public transportation system.

They are co-owned by Semler, Denmark’s largest car dealer, and Switzerland’s largest car dealer, AMAG.

Established: 2016
Employees: 16 across Copenhagen, Odense, Helsinki, and Oslo

Christina Melander

Director of Digital Transition

Phone +45 2946 2922
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Do you want to know more about how to steer your company in a more ethical direction?

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