Seminar “Ethics & Technology for elderly people at home”

Download the program (in french)

With the support of EIT Health – CLC France’s ELSI group, on 23 May 2016, MADoPA held a seminar on ethics and technologies for elderly people at home at the offices of the Fédération Nationale de la Mutualité Française in Paris. Around fifty silver economy (mutual insurance companies, industrial players, researchers, care and service providers, Ministries, local authorities) and EIT Health consortium representatives attended the seminar. The proceedings were opened by the Chairman of the Fédération Nationale de la Mutualité Française, Mr Etienne Caniard, the Chairman of MADoPA, Mr Alain Faye and the Director of CLC France, Mr Jason Théodosiou, and provided an opportunity to confront different perspectives on the issue of ethics and technologies for elderly people at home. The points of view of users (Ms Florence Leduc, French Association of Carers, Mr Hervé Michel and Mr Alexandre Duclos, MADoPA), insurers (Mr Pierre Louis, Scor), industrial players (Mr Jean-Marc Bourez, Sanofi) and care and service providers (Pr François Blanchard, Reims University Teaching Hospital), were discussed and compared with the changing regulatory framework and legislation in France and Europe (Mr Pierre Desmarais, Lawyer).

This packed seminar raised a number of key points.

  1. Ethical reflection means putting the different points of view of all silver economy players on the table for discussion, not just those of end users but also those of technology leaders, funders, care and service providers, etc.
  2. Ethical reflection is never worn out by the legal framework that fuels it, takes it on board where relevant and is constantly renewed by it.
  3. Although there are different traditions (standardized ethics, moral ethics, utilitarianism, consequentialism, etc.) structuring ethical debate, the socio-ethnographic evaluation of usages of technologies (developed in particular by MADoPA) seems an extremely productive way of astutely characterising everyone’s positions and proposing, without any value judgements, a framework for ethical reflection appropriate to the different contexts in which technologies are used.
  4. This approach is in keeping with the innovation and co-construction approach driven by Living Labs.
  5. Although it may still be too early to pinpoint one or more ethical frameworks appropriate to technologies for elderly people at home – as overall, there is still work to be done -, a number of sticking points and areas of tension and concern were highlighted by the various contributors to this seminar. This includes, for example, the issues raised by the technology co-design and evaluation methods: the issue of added value and innovation potential varying depending on the methods used, and at the same time, issue about the status given to individuals: the user-tester as a “guinea pig” or the user as a fully-fledged player in the technology creation and development process. It also includes the matter of personal data, which in real terms seems to come up less, for users, in terms of protection than in terms of consideration for access to the privacy of their everyday lives.