Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 1035–1055 | Cite as

Ethical Design of Intelligent Assistive Technologies for Dementia: A Descriptive Review

  • Marcello IencaEmail author
  • Tenzin Wangmo
  • Fabrice Jotterand
  • Reto W. Kressig
  • Bernice Elger
Review Paper


The use of Intelligent Assistive Technology (IAT) in dementia care opens the prospects of reducing the global burden of dementia and enabling novel opportunities to improve the lives of dementia patients. However, with current adoption rates being reportedly low, the potential of IATs might remain under-expressed as long as the reasons for suboptimal adoption remain unaddressed. Among these, ethical and social considerations are critical. This article reviews the spectrum of IATs for dementia and investigates the prevalence of ethical considerations in the design of current IATs. Our screening shows that a significant portion of current IATs is designed in the absence of explicit ethical considerations. These results suggest that the lack of ethical consideration might be a codeterminant of current structural limitations in the translation of IATs from designing labs to bedside. Based on these data, we call for a coordinated effort to proactively incorporate ethical considerations early in the design and development of new products.


Assistive technology Dementia Ethical design User-centered Neurotechnology Artificial intelligence Proactive ethics 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Biomedical EthicsUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland
  2. 2.Health Ethics and Policy Lab, Department of Health Sciences and TechnologyETHZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Center for Bioethics and Medical HumanitiesInstitute for Health and Society, Medical College of WisconsinMilwaukeeUSA
  4. 4.Felix Platter HospitalUniversity Center for Medicine of AgingBaselSwitzerland
  5. 5.Chair of GeriatricsUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland
  6. 6.Center for Legal MedicineUniversity of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland

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