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Mobile-Centric Ambient Intelligence in Health- and Homecare—Anticipating Ethical and Legal Challenges

Abstract

Ambient Intelligence provides the potential for vast and varied applications, bringing with it both promise and peril. The development of Ambient Intelligence applications poses a number of ethical and legal concerns. Mobile devices are increasingly evolving into tools to orientate in and interact with the environment, thus introducing a user-centric approach to Ambient Intelligence. The MINAmI (Micro-Nano integrated platform for transverse Ambient Intelligence applications) FP6 research project aims at creating core technologies for mobile device based Ambient Intelligence services. In this paper we assess five scenarios that demonstrate forthcoming MINAmI-based applications focusing on healthcare, assistive technology, homecare, and everyday life in general. A legal and ethical analysis of the scenarios is conducted, which reveals various conflicting interests. The paper concludes with some thoughts on drafting ethical guidelines for Ambient Intelligence applications.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    The MINAmI Ethical Advisory Board includes external experts of different fields of ethics. It identifies and evaluates broader ethical implications related to the project vision, goal, and products.

  2. 2.

    Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market (Directive on electronic commerce), L 171, 17.07.2000, p. 1-16.

  3. 3.

    Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, L 281, 23.11.1995, p. 31-50 (Data Protection Directive).

  4. 4.

    The “Sleep quality logger” is delivered to the patient with fully charged batteries and it will power on automatically when the measurement is initiated. There is no need to switch the device off, but the batteries will become empty eventually. Data read-out clears the memory of the device, while recharging the batteries takes the device into stand-by mode.

  5. 5.

    Volkszählungs-Urteil, BVerfGE 65,1-Volkszählung.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported in part by the MINAmI project, which receives research funding from the European Union’s Sixth Framework Programme; however, the paper represents the views of the authors only.

Author information

Correspondence to Eleni Kosta.

Additional information

This is an updated and enriched version of the paper “Ethical-Legal Challenges in User-Centric AmI Services”, presented at ICIW/SLAECE 2008.

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Kosta, E., Pitkänen, O., Niemelä, M. et al. Mobile-Centric Ambient Intelligence in Health- and Homecare—Anticipating Ethical and Legal Challenges. Sci Eng Ethics 16, 303–323 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-009-9150-5

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Keywords

  • MINAmI project
  • Ambient intelligence
  • Data protection
  • Privacy
  • Ethical guidelines
  • eInclusion
  • Social divide