The ethics of inherent trust in care robots for the elderly

Adam Poulsen, Oliver K. Burmeister, David Kreps

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The way elderly care is delivered is changing. Attempts are being made to accommodate the increasing number of elderly, and the decline in the number of people available to care for them, with care robots. This change introduces ethical issues into robotics and healthcare. The two-part study (heuristic evaluation and survey) reported here examines a phenomenon which is a result of that change. The phenomenon rises out of a contradiction. All but 2 (who were undecided) of the 12 elderly survey respondents, out of the total of 102 respondents, wanted to be able to change how the presented care robot made decisions and 7 of those 12 elderly wanted to be able to examine its decision making process so as to ensure the care provided is personalized. However, at the same time, 34% of the elderly participants said they were willing to trust the care robot inherently, compared to only 16% of the participants who were under fifty. Additionally, 66% of the elderly respondents said they were very likely or likely to accept and use such a care robot in their everyday lives. The contradiction of inherent trust and simultaneous wariness about control gives rise to the phenomenon: elderly in need want control over their care to ensure it is personalized, but many may desperately take any help they can get. The possible causes, and ethical implications, of this phenomenon are the focus of this paper.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThis changes everything – ICT and climate change: what can we do?
Subtitle of host publication13th IFIP TC 9 international conference on human choice and computers, HCC13 2018, proceedings
EditorsKai Kimppa, Louise Leenen, Charles Ess, David Kreps
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9783319996059
ISBN (Print)9783319996042, 9783030076153
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Aug 2018
Event13th IFIP TC9 Human Choice and Computers Conference: “This Changes Everything” - Lecture and Conference Center, Poznan University of Technology, Poznan, Poland
Duration: 19 Sept 201821 Sept 2018 (Conference website) (Call for papers)

Publication series

NameIFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology
ISSN (Print)1868-4238
ISSN (Electronic)1868-422X


Conference13th IFIP TC9 Human Choice and Computers Conference
Abbreviated titleThis Changes Everything
OtherSince 1974, the Human Choice and Computers (HCC) conference series has consistently fostered innovative thinking about the interfaces between society and technology. Such thinking always reflects the social concerns of a specific time: Globalisation in 1998, Choice and Quality of Life in 2002, An Information Society for All in 2006, What Kind of Information Society in 2010, and Technology and Intimacy in 2016 are primary examples. The number and range of challenges facing the world today at the interface between society and technology are not only mounting, but are increasingly doing so at the deepest levels of the existential – not simply in terms of meaning and justice, but, most fundamentally, in terms of the survival of different species and ecology generally. With the awareness, in particular, that Global Leadership on the increasingly pressing issue of climate change is in short supply, Human Choice and Computers turns – among other concerns – to the question: ICT and Climate Change – What Can We Do?
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