Thursday, February 26, 2015

Technology In search of ethical answers – Germany radio

From Ingeborg Breuer

A service robot is presented at the fair Automatica on 03.06.2014 in Munich. (picture-alliance / dpa / Peter Kneffel)
A service robot is presented at the fair Automatica on 03.06.2014 in Munich. (Picture-alliance / dpa / Peter Kneffel)

Assistive technologies such as service robots or sensor-based monitoring systems should support aid and long-term care in their home environment and the staff in hospitals, nursing homes relieve. Given the expected growth of old and in need of care, such systems can be quite helpful.

“The robot seal Paro looks like a cuddly white seal, is about 2.7 kg, 57 cm long, with a white fluffy fur, which is antibacterial. The seal has a number of touch sensors that detect how they touched. So, if you stroke or beats and behave accordingly. 2002 Guinness Book to Paro awarded the therapeutischste seal in the world. It is used in many applications, for example in people with dementia in people with various disabilities, autistic children … “

” Service Robots and Avatars “was the meeting of the Evangelical training center in Berlin, where Prof. Barbara Klein the cuddly robot” Paro imagined “. A cute robot that hums pleasant, if it is scratched and protested when dealing too rough with him. To encourage people with dementia emotionally, the Professor of Social Work, which carried out a research project on emotional and social robotics.

“For example, one of my students had set the seal on a man who already several weeks no longer has spoken. And how he then had the seal in the arm, he started to stroke the seal and said, ‘my Buebele, my Buebele’. And they were all surprised that such an interaction is still possible. “

Opinions differ on the seal. It allows access to people who are hardly accessible to the world around them, some say. This is not a substitute for real affection, my other, because only among people, a man can feel safe. – These are the questions the horizon at the Berlin Conference was staked. What role will the role may so-called “assisted living” in the future in medicine and healthcare play

“There is the area that deals with everyday practicalities, so safety: equipment shutdown, turn-off iron, the stove shutdown … “

So Birgid Eberhardt of the ‘tellurium Telecommunication Company’ on assistive technologies that are already in use today. Since there are GPS tracking systems in insoles for weglaufgefährdete dementia; installed in the apartment sensors that register when a person does not get up or restless at night haunts the apartment. When telemonitoring patients are equipped with devices to measure their vital signs, so they can be medically monitored from a distance. And then there is also research on so-called virtual avatars. Computer-controlled artificial persons appearing on screens, communicate with the viewer and support him in his daily activities. Similarly, one does research on so-called telepresence robots, machines equipped with wheels with webcam and microphone, which can move in space.

“If we think of the transfer in the elderly, then sometimes as little things that do not . So let’s take the work situation of those affected, sometimes … to give aid, as sometimes to say, I’ll throw out the view from the window, is there really a source of noise or says she just because someone is standing in front of the windows … “

Given our aging society and the growing number of dependent people, which can draw at home only on an unstable supply network, Birgid Eberhardt holds such systems for quite helpful. They not only facilitate assistance and care to live longer in their own self-determined domestic sphere.

New technology leads to new ethical questions

“Just the knowledge of him, how is the situation at home with her mother, her grandmother without a call that is not answered … the feeling that everything is alright. Many people want to be present yes, they want to help, but each must also its own possibilities households. And … women do not give up her career and today it is not that they do not want to support, but they want to support precisely, they want to be able to work in peace … “

But in addition to these positive aspects, the technique involves use in medicine and nursing ethical issues, Dr. habil Arne Manzeschke, a theologian at the University of Munich and co-organizer of the conference, have so far been considered too little.

“I’m in the technical assistance systems field for some time on the road and have observed that in this area a lot of projects are funded, the deal basically technical questions very intense economic issues intense, but ask little, what about the ethical and social aspects, which are connected with such things. “

The basic discomfort that express many in developing such assistance systems, is ultimately grounded in the question of how far technology will determine the life. This also medical historian Prof. Heiner Fangerau employed in his introductory speech. In science and technology, the Director of the Institute for the History and Ethics of Medicine at the University of Cologne based model of success modernity. This also applies to the medicine, it came through the technical developments to enormous advances in the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases since the 19th century.

“Technology is hugely successful in the Declaration of disease, in the Declaration of physiological processes, but also in the treatment of disease. And ethical problems that arise for example in connection with the soul, trying to feed again a solution with a new technique. “

In view of the success of technology you try then even again to solve any ethical problems technically. If it is about ethically problematic to use embryos to produce stem cells, is the technical solution to this problem, to obtain stem cells without embryos. But, Heiner Fangerau:

“This seems this ethical problem solved technically And in the debate now is hardly refers back to the fact that if you take these stem cells seriously, which also can be technically transferred embryos again yes. and is thus again would the starting point of the debate, may make potential human life available to “

In other words: You often goes in modern medicine ‘rationally’ in front, without asking what value possibly by This procedure is violated. However, the question of the value it also applies to the new assistive technologies considered.

“In terms of care you have to watch very closely in the evaluation of assistance systems which purpose they should have and this purpose in any manner subject to a value which is calling into question by the establishment of such a robot. “

In addition to the ‘rationality’ applies it so whatever the” value rationality “of technical innovations to consider, calls the medical ethicist at the University of Cologne.

dystopias a world without human care

“There is the whole area of ​​home monitoring. The purpose is to provide a demented people protect, ensure that someone does not run away with dementia, after a fall, a message is that it is ensured that such a person is drinking enough. If the machines make, ‘ne Weglaufsperre, a bracelet, which controls the doors, A message of the carpet, then the objective of safeguarding requirements are fulfilled. But the value of a grant experiencing this man thus not. It occurs with constant monitoring, which maybe a person and his need for autonomy runs with an incipient dementia contrary “

While it is for the time being still a vision -. But by the smart networking of the apartments in which motion pictures, . eating, drinking and sleeping habits and may actually go and evaluated even blood pressure, heart rate and weight fluctuations of the residents, the users of such services is increasingly losing control of his data in a paradoxical way would be to remain in the home environment – as a receipt of self-determination -. at the same time come at the expense of privacy, but this is again intended to limit the self-determination

“The point is that this assistance systems indeed appear increasingly ambient, not just appear, but in background doing their effect. …. The be installed in the apartment. The apartment is considered a very intimate and protected space, data is simultaneously but by the technical systems in and out and promoted the unity of the flat continuously perforated. …. However, this means that we who put as much emphasis on our people to self-determination, by these technical devices that surround us gently and make recommendations to us that increasingly define us. … The question is whether the people want this so and what it means for society as a whole, when we open this inner space? “

It comes at the end to a kind of biopolitical control system in which dictated the people, when and what they eat and what medicines they take way it designs the German author Juli Zeh in her novel “corpus delicti”: She paints there a health dictatorship that for all but the best wants and therefore regulates the food, drinking water and movement behavior of people. Apply in future machines which, according to the head of the Research Centre for Ethics and Anthropology at the University of Munich Arne Manzeschke what the charity, caring for people in need arose? ‘ / p>

“As to the right to care, the wish that other people take care of me because I can not go alone, ordered when we say we do but technically everything for you and more is not there, where we are anyway challenged and overwhelmed in every corner? “

What Arne Manzeschke imagines here are dystopias, negative utopia of a world without eye contact, no contact and human care. Heiner Fangerau, medical historian:

“You can describe as a dystopia, the place that we do not have at the moment, the other dystopia would be the absolute back to nature, which is also not so technically dominated place really. wishes. In reality, people oppose one or the other technique or they use technology, but not exclusively, but to do what they have traditionally learned to talk to each other, for example. The absoluteness, which is sometimes presented in the debate that exists not. “

That old people who need more than just technology, but also require care and attention, is likely to be broad consensus. However, care is expensive and nurses than ever. If smart technologies could reduce the cost of care for older people, warns Heiner Fangerau, economic interests gain precedence over ethical reservations.

“It may well be that market interests and political interests cause we a come such a dystopia closer you have the debate always somewhere when machines are introduced -… there is a concern that people are superfluous And since you have to really be careful that people do not become obsolete and that would be something that I would actually in medicine and nursing a tiny bit of concern. “

Arne Manzeschke holds assistive technologies for quite a way to independence and quality of life for people, especially in older age groups to improve. Nevertheless, it should always be clear that technology compassion and caring for others can not replace. To keep it more than a moral claim, it was important to create institutional frameworks that promote such compassion.

“The challenging task facing us today is that we design technology so that we not be lost sight of the individual as a person. That he does not appear to us as a data bundle from which we can read these and those things. But we create structures in which we still allow the possibility of interpersonal and interpersonal contact . We currently have structures where people do not have time. We promise we have of the technique is that it returns us this time. The experience of the last few centuries has shown that where technology is used, we do not … rather fall into a race. That’s why I think it needs this reflection on art in the way we design them as we learn to deal with it so that we do not just happen. “


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