The measure of technology for older people is in its ability to enhance the quality of life for people. The true value of technology is emphasised as a means of achieving this ultimate target. However, the development of technology usually proceeds much faster than the ethical discussion of its use. Modern technology, such as unobtrusive intelligent technology to be used in older people’s homes, or robotics in care work, for example, may raise many ethical issues. The impact of technology can be assessed against a number of ethical principles that are consid-ered universal ethical values. Technology for older people provokes ethical discussion in areas such as the au-tonomy and privacy, as well as data protection and the prevention of harm. However, these principles must be discussed on a practical level in order to inform technology design. To understand the contents of morals and their real values, it is essential to study how people experience and represent moral issues in their lives. Ethical values connect thus technology to the way older people live and to the forms of life they participate in.
Technology design should use vital understanding about people’s daily life as the basis of the creation of design ideas and design concepts. In ethical design, the possibilities for ethically sound service concepts are studied by integrating older people and relevant stakeholders into the design discussion. In this way ethical choices and values are reflected and resolved within the design decisions. This involves examining what is ethically acceptable, i.e., what constitutes “the good” for the end users and society. Design ideas should be fully examined to consider how they would support or inhibit the realization of a good life in the given form of life of older people.
VTT has examined pressing ethical concerns of care professionals, older people, and academics regarding modern technology in everyday living contexts. Various focus groups and workshops have been organised in order to build a shared understanding of the ethical issues related to emerging technologies such as ubiquitous monitoring, robotics and big data. Discussions have been carried out on universal ethical principles (such as privacy and autonomy) as well as trust and acceptability: in what forms (and on what terms) new technology would be welcomed and adopted in practice. The knowledge derived from the discussions can serve innovation management processes.
It has been found useful to study the possibilities for ethically sound service concepts by integrating older people and relevant stakeholders into the design discussion. Both sides are needed, as they weigh ethical principles and values differently. The participation of older people in the focus groups and workshops has revealed that they are relevant co-designers of the meaningfulness of technology in their own lives and in society.
|Translated title of the contribution
|Ethics and social evolution of Gerontechnology
|Title of host publication
|Ikääntyminen ja teknologia
|VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
|Published - 2017
|MoE publication type
|D2 Article in professional manuals or guides or professional information systems or text book material
|VTT Research Highlights