Lost in translation? Conceptions of privacy and independence in the technical development of AI-based AAL

Kris Vera Hartmann, Nadia Primc, Giovanni Rubeis

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article


AAL encompasses smart home technologies that are installed in the personal living environment in order to support older, disabled, as well as chronically ill people with the goal of delaying or reducing their need for nursing care in a care facility. Artificial intelligence (AI) is seen as an important tool for assisting the target group in their daily lives. A literature search and qualitative content analysis of 255 articles from computer science and engineering was conducted to explore the usage of ethical concepts. From an ethical point of view, the concept of independence and self-determination on the one hand and the possible loss of privacy on the other hand are widely discussed in the context of AAL. These concepts are adopted by the technical discourse in the sense that independence, self-determination and privacy are recognized as important values. Nevertheless, our research shows that these concepts have different usages and meanings in the ethical and the technical discourses. In the paper, we aim to map the different meanings of independence, self-determination and privacy as they can be found in the context of technological research on AI-based AAL systems. It investigates the interpretation of these ethical and social concepts which technicians try to build into AAL systems. In a second step, these interpretations are contextualized with concepts from the ethical discourse on AI-based assistive technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-110
Number of pages12
JournalMedicine, Health Care and Philosophy
Issue number1
Early online date08 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


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