Advertisement

Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 27–40 | Cite as

Granny and the robots: ethical issues in robot care for the elderly

  • Amanda Sharkey
  • Noel Sharkey
Article

Abstract

The growing proportion of elderly people in society, together with recent advances in robotics, makes the use of robots in elder care increasingly likely. We outline developments in the areas of robot applications for assisting the elderly and their carers, for monitoring their health and safety, and for providing them with companionship. Despite the possible benefits, we raise and discuss six main ethical concerns associated with: (1) the potential reduction in the amount of human contact; (2) an increase in the feelings of objectification and loss of control; (3) a loss of privacy; (4) a loss of personal liberty; (5) deception and infantilisation; (6) the circumstances in which elderly people should be allowed to control robots. We conclude by balancing the care benefits against the ethical costs. If introduced with foresight and careful guidelines, robots and robotic technology could improve the lives of the elderly, reducing their dependence, and creating more opportunities for social interaction

Keywords

Elderly Elder care Robot Assistive robotics Surveillance Companion Guidelines 

References

  1. Allen, C., Wallach, W., & Smit, I. (2006). Why machine ethics? IEEE Intelligent Systems, 21(4), 12–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson, M., & Anderson, S. (2008) “EthEl: Toward a principled ethical eldercare robot”. In Proceedings of the AAAI Fall 2008 Symposium on AI in Eldercare: New solutions to old problems. Arlington, VA, November.Google Scholar
  3. Anderson, M., Anderson, S. L., & Armen, C. (2006). An approach to computing ethics. IEEE Intelligent Systems, 21(4), 56–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Banks, M. R., & Banks, W. A. (2002). The effects of animal-assisted therapy on loneliness in an elderly population in long-term care facilities. Journals of Gerontology Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 57A, M428–M432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Banks, M. R., & Banks, W. A. (2005). The effects of group and individual animal assisted therapy on loneliness in residents of long-term care facilities. Anthrozoos, 18, 396–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Banks, M. R., Willoughby, L. M., & Banks, W. A. (2008). Animal-assisted therapy and loneliness in nursing homes: Use of robotic versus living dogs. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 9, 173–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cayton, H. (2006). From childhood to childhood? Autonomy and dependence through the ages of life. In J. C. Hughes, S. J. Louw, & S. R. Sabat (Eds.), Dementia: Mind, meaning, and the person (pp. 277–286). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Clark, A., & Chalmers, D. J. (1998). The extended mind. Analysis, 58, 10–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Coleridge, S.T. (1817) Biographia Literaria, chapter 14 (p. 314).Google Scholar
  10. Deegan, P., Grupen, R., Hanson, A., Horrell, E., Ou, S., Riseman, E., Sen, S., Thibodeau, B., Williams, A., & Xie, D. (2007). Mobile Manipulators for Assisted Living in Residential Settings, Autonomous Robots, Special Issue on Socially Assistive Robotics. 24(2).Google Scholar
  11. Doshi, F., & Roy, N. (2008). Spoken language interaction with model uncertainity: An adaptive human-robot interaction system. Connection Science, 20(4), 299–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Forlizzi, J., DiSalvo, C., & Gemperle, F. (2004). Assistive robotics and an ecology of elders living independently in their homes. Human-Computer Interaction, 19, 25–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fratiglioni, L., Wang, H.-X., Ericsson, K., et al. (2000). Influence of social network on occurrence of dementia: A community-based longitudinal study. Lancet, 355, 1315–1319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Friedman, B., & Kahn, P. H., Jr. (2003). Human values, ethics, and design. In J. A. Jacko & A. Sears (Eds.), The human–computer interaction handbook (pp. 1177–1201). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  15. Friedman, B., Kahn, P. H., Jr., & Borning, A. (2006). Value sensitive design and information systems. In P. Zhang & D. Galletta (Eds.), Human–computer interaction in management information systems: Foundations (pp. 348–372). Armonk, NY; London, England: M.E. Sharpe. Reprinted (2008) in K. E. Himma & H. T. Tavani (Eds.), The Handbook of Information and Computer Ethics (pp. 69–101). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.Google Scholar
  16. Heinrichs, M., Baumgartner, T., Kirschbaum, C., & Ehlert, U. (2003). Social support and oxytocin interact to suppress cortisol and subjective responses to psychosocial stress. Biological Psychiatry, 54, 1389–1398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Heinrichs, M., von Dawan, s B., & Domes, G. (2009). Oxytocin, vasopressin, and human social behavior. Front. Neuroendocrinol. doi: 10.1016/j.yfrne.2009.05.005.
  18. Holtzman, R. E., Rebok, G. W., Saczynski, J. S., et al. (2004). Social network characteristics and cognition in middle-aged and older adults. Journals of Gerontology Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 59, P278–P284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. House of Lords, House of Commons Joint Committee on Human Rights (2006–2007). The human rights of elder people in health care. London: The Stationary Office Ltd.Google Scholar
  20. Kahn, P. H., Jr., Friedman, B., Perez-Granados, D., & Freier, N. G. (2006). Robotic pets in the lives of preschool children. Interaction Studies, 7(3), 405–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kanamori, M., Suzuki, M., & Tanaka, M. (2002). Maintenance and improvement of quality of life among elderly patients using a pet-type robot. Japanese Journal of Geriatrics, 39, 214–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kikusui, T., Winslow, J. T., & Mori, Y. (2006). Social buffering: Relief from stress and anxiety. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B Biological Sciences, 361(1476), 2215–2228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kitwood, T. (1997). Dementia reconsidered: The person comes first. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Langer, E. J., & Rodin, J. (1976). The effects of choice and enhanced personal responsibility for the aged: A field experiment in an institutional setting. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 34(2), 191–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lopes, M. M., Koenig, N. P., Chernova, S. H., Jones, C. V., & Jenkins, O. C. (2009). Mobile human-robot teaming with environmental tolerance. In Proceedings of the 4th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human Robot Interaction (La Jolla, California, USA, March 09–13, 2009). HRI ‘09. ACM, New York, NY, 157–164.Google Scholar
  26. Melson, G. F., Kahn, P. H., Jr., Beck, A. M., Friedman, B., Roberts, T., Garrett, E., & Gill, B. T. (2010). Robots as dogs?—Children’s interactions with the robotic dog AIBO and a live Australian shepherd. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology (in press b).Google Scholar
  27. Nguyen, H., Anderson, C., Trevor, A., Jain, A., Xu, Z., & Kemp, C.C. (2008). El-E: An assistive robot that fetches objects from flat surfaces. In HRI Workshop on Robotic Helpers: User Interaction Interfaces and Companions in Assistive and Therapy Robots. Google Scholar
  28. Nissenbaum, H. (1998). Protecting privacy in an information age: The problem of privacy in public. Law and Philosophy, 17, 559–596.Google Scholar
  29. Older people and human rights: Research and Mapping Report. 2009-11-03 Age Concern England and British Institute of Human Rights.Google Scholar
  30. Orpwood, R., Adlam, T., Evans, N., & Chadd, J. (2008). Evaluation of an assisted-living smart home for someone with dementia. Journal of Assistive Technologies, 2(2), 13–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Pollack, M. E., Engberg, S., Matthews, J. T., Thrun, S., Brown, L., Colbry, D., Orosz, C., Peintner, B., Ramakrishnan, S., Dunbar-Jacob, J., McCarthy, C., Montemerlo, M., Pineau, J., & Roy, N. (2002) Pearl: A mobile robotic assistant for the elderly. In AAAI Workshop on Automation as Eldercare, Aug 2002.Google Scholar
  32. Saczynskil, J. S., Pfeifer, L. A., Masaki, K., Korf, E. S. C., Laurin, D., White, L., et al. (2006). The effect of social engagement on incident dementia: The Honolulu-Asia Aging Study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 163(5), 433–440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Schacter, O. (1983). Human dignity as a normative concept. The American Journal of International Law, 77(4), 848–854.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sharkey, N. E. (2008). The ethical frontiers of robotics. Science, 322, 1800–1801.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sharkey, N. E. (2009) The robot arm of the law grows longer. IEEE Computer, 42(8), 115–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Sharkey, N., & Sharkey, A. (2006). Artificial intelligence and natural magic. Artificial Intelligence Review, 25, 9–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Sharkey, N., & Sharkey, A. (2010a). Living with robots: Ethical tradeoffs in eldercare. In Y. Wilks (Ed.), Close engagements with artificial companions: Key psychological, social, ethical and design issues (pp. 245–256). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
  38. Sharkey, N., & Sharkey, A. (2010b). The crying shame of robot nannies: An ethical appraisal. Interaction Studies, 11(2), 161–190.MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Smith, J. (2003). Stress and aging: Theoretical and empirical challenges for interdisciplinary research. Neurobiology of Aging, Suppl 1, S77–S80; discussion S81–S82.Google Scholar
  40. Sparrow, R. (2002). The march of the robot dogs. Ethics and Information Technology, 4, 305–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sparrow, R., & Sparrow, L. (2006). In the hands of machines? The future of aged care. Mind and Machine, 16, 141–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Takayama, L. (2010). On making robots invisible-in-use. In Proceedings of the International Symposium on New Frontiers in HumanRobot Interaction: AISB 2010, Leicester, UK. Google Scholar
  43. Tamura, T., Yonemitsu, S., Itoh, A., Oikawa, D., Kawakami, A., Higashi, Y., et al. (2004). Is an entertainment robot useful in the care of elderly people with severe dementia? Journals of Gerontology Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 59(1), 83–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Tavani, H., & Moor, J. (2001). Privacy protection, control of information, and privacy-enhancing technologies. Computers and Society, 31(1), 6–11.Google Scholar
  45. Turkle, S., Breazeal, C., Dasté, O., & Scassellati, B. (2006b). First encounters with Kismet and Cog: Children respond to relational artifacts. In P. Messaris & L. Humphreys (Eds.), Digital media: Transformations in human communication. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.Google Scholar
  46. Turkle, S., Taggart, W., Kidd, C. D., & Dasté, O. (2006a). Relational artifacts with children and elders: The complexities of cybercompanionship. Connection Science, 18, 4, 347–362.Google Scholar
  47. Wada, K., & Shibata, T. (2006) Robot therapy in a care house: Its sociopsychological and physiological effects on the residents. In Proceedings of the 2006 International Conference on Robotics and Automation, Orlando, Florida, May 2006 (pp. 3966–3971).Google Scholar
  48. Wallach, W., & Allen, C. (2009). Moral machines: Teaching robots right from wrong. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Wang, H., Karp, A., Winblad, B., & Fratiglioni, L. (2002) Late-life engagements in social and leisure activities is associated with a decreased risk of dementia: A longitudinal study from the Kungsholmen project. American Journal of Epidemiology, 155, 12, 108101087.Google Scholar
  50. Wilks, Y. (2010) Editor, Close engagements with artificial companions: Key psychological, social, ethical and design issues. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
  51. Wilson, R. S., Krueger, K. R., Arnold, S. E., Schneider, J. A., Kelly, J. F., Barnes, L. L., et al. (2007). Loneliness and risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Archives of General Psychiatry, 64, 234–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Winner, S. (2007). Beam me inside, Scotty! Assisted Living Consult. Google Scholar
  53. Zizek, S. (2002). The Zizek reader. London: Blackwell.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of SheffieldSheffield, South YorkshireUK

Personalised recommendations