Design of Robotic Care: Ethical Implications of a Multi-Actor Perspective

Martina Caic, Stefan Holmlid, Dominik Mahr, Gaby Odekerken-Schröder

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review

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The topic of ethically-sound robotic design is timely and societally relevant as service robots have roles with increasingly social demands in diverse service contexts. Robots fill caregiving roles for vulnerable consumers, including older adults and children. This chapter presents an empirical study investigating social and ethical ramifications of robotic elderly care from the perspective of those receiving and those providing care. Consequently, 36 actors (i.e., older adults, informal and formal caregivers) were interviewed through generative phenomenographic interviews. This approach leveraged data-rich narratives and informant-made visualizations of future networks of care to uncover their expectations and concerns. A multi-actor perspective on the ethical implications of robotic care is captured with three thematic maps built around: 1) assistance, 2) monitoring, and 3) companionship. The results indicate that social robots could improve the well-being of older adults and wider care-providing networks through service, constant presence, and increased reliability. However, the visualizations of future robotic care uncovered informants’ additional latent fears, in addition to ethical concerns found (e.g., decline in agency, loss of privacy, delusion). For example, formal caregivers who emphasized that they do not fear robots replacing their jobs would not place the robot close to the older person in the visualization of future care constellations. This suggests that although formal caregivers tend to give “desirable” responses in interviews, they are still reluctant to accept robots as care co-providers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationService Design Practices for Healthcare Innovation
Subtitle of host publicationParadigms, Principles, Prospects
EditorsMario A. Pfannstiel, Nataliia Brehmer, Christoph Rasche
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-87273-1
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-87272-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022
MoE publication typeA3 Book section, Chapters in research books


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