Scottish Care launches paper to tackle ethics in technology

Immigration rethink needed, Scottish Care leader tells MPs
Dr Donald Macaskill, Scottish Care chief executive

A national awareness and information strategy around the positive use of technology for social care should be developed to help address some of the ‘dangers and limitations’ surrounding artificial intelligence, big data and the internet of things.

The strategy is one of nine recommendations made by Scottish Care in a report on human rights and ethics in relation to the use of technology in older people’s care.

Written by Scottish Care chief executive Dr Donald Macaskill, Tech Rights addresses some of the challenges that the increased use of technology including ‘care-bots’ and ‘sensor devices’ are posing for developers and older people.

The membership organisation also recommends a human-rights based ethical charter for technology and digital, the establishment of a Scottish centre for human rights and ethics in technology and enabling the workforce to be innovators and co-designers.

Dr Macaskill said: ‘We have to start having the debate about whether we have a human right to be cared for by a human being rather than just by a machine. Many of us live with smart technology in our homes every day – but have we really given thought to the way in which the data gathered by these devices is being used and by whom?

‘Scotland has been a proud defender and promotor of human rights within social care and health. I believe there is a real opportunity, faced with the challenges of artificial intelligence and wider technology, for Scotland to be at the forefront of the debate around the role of ethics and human rights of technology.

‘There is an urgent need to collectively develop an ethical and human rights-based foundation for the future design, development and use of technology within social care, and indeed, more generally in Scottish society. Without such a foundation and the establishment of clear human rights principles there is a very real possibility that the opportunities of this new age will remain untapped.’