Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Ethics and social considerations in technology for ageing

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are improving the lives of the elderly like never before, but they raise societal and ethical concerns. An EU initiative addressed these issues.
Ethics and social considerations in technology for ageing
From assistive technologies to monitoring systems, ICTs allow the elderly to enhance their quality of life by staying healthy, independent and active. Going hand in hand with ICT for ageing is the respect for values such as human dignity and autonomy. A greater understanding is needed for the way in which existing values drive technology innovation, and how technology is changing people's standards. Such fundamental values need to be built into the design stage of ICTs from the very start.

The EU-funded VALUE-AGEING (Incorporating European fundamental values into ICT for ageing: A vital political, ethical, technological, and industrial challenge) project sought to better address social, ethical and value implications of ICT for ageing.

Skills exchange and knowledge transfer was carried out by 23 seconded researchers, and eight recruitments were completed. They performed a fact-finding exercise, developed specific metrics, established a best practice database, and devised action plans that identify, assess and present policy options.

Based on the findings, project partners concluded that the universality of values to be incorporated into science and technology should consider local differences and realities. The EU needs to encourage national and local communities to get engaged. These communities are key to understanding the diversity of ICT impacts on the elderly and duplicating proven technology solutions.

The VALUE-AGEING team made several recommendations targeting policymakers, academia and industry. Effective and established ICT for ageing should be made accessible primarily within the public healthcare and long-term care systems. Older patients that do not adopt technologies should not be at a disadvantage as regards their medical treatment or care. The introduction of care technologies needs to be combined with inclusion in care networks, the development of new services and applicable legal preparations.

VALUE-AGEING outcomes call on researchers to consider what older people value and why they value it based on where they live. They also ask policymakers to identify vulnerabilities, re-engage with inequality and evaluate resource allocation.

Related information


Information and communication technologies, elderly, ageing, fundamental values, VALUE-AGEING
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