ATHIKA online training: ethically responsible technological-powered future

When the flow of information on the Internet and mobile devices is growing exponentially fast, it is very important to have requirements of governance and ethics.

Health industry is one of those fields where data is especially sensitive and specialists must be able to collect, manage and store it very responsibly. Responding to the industry’s needs, the project ATHIKA was started two years ago with a strong focus on governance and ethics topics. Mats Volberg says that issues of privacy, safety, trust are always central with healthcare with tech-based solutions. There is also increased concern over access and justice issues both on an individual as well as population level.

„What is needed is more transparency in tech development and regulation to raise the trustworthiness of the e-solutions. But also simply talking and debating about these issues socially, so that people become aware and can form their views“, says lecturer.

ATHIKA online training is one of tools where society of future specialists and entrepreneurs can receive relevant information. The project has created an interdisciplinary online course for the digital transformation of the eHealth sector. These three months online course allowed students from different universities to establish the basis of the eHealth sector from a perspective of real challenges, as well as the technologies (Internet of Things, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning) that can be key to the evolution of the sector, always from a humanistic perspective and ethical reflection of the technological solution.

25 students of 180 who decided to participate in online training enrolled in the Governance and Ethics itinerary and provided an actionable set of ethical guidelines for one of our technological partners. The course had a strong orientation towards the industry’s needs and problems and provided the students with the knowledge to create flexible, problem-oriented solutions. Representatives from University, companies and industrial partners were participating in all the training activities, interacting with the students, and bringing their specific expertise to support both trainers and learners.
“Digital runs through so many aspects of health care and medicine – from electronic health records to AI medical chatbots. These are complex issues and complex skills are needed. I think ATHIKA has done a great job in bringing very different aspects of the e-health sector together, we all have a better understanding of what is going on in other sectors and how this is relevant to what we are doing”, says the lecturer.

In the unit Ethics & Governance students focused on the ethics and governance of technologies. Students started from a “bigger picture” of how certain technologies and innovations are framed and governed within national political settings. Then they proceeded more specifically to health innovation, namely the use of artificial intelligence for health and well-being and the issue of nudging for health.

In the final part of the course different groups of students were guided by a group of mixed staff profiles during the workshops and lab sessions but also afterwards in the design of their specific solutions and the definition of their prototypes. They looked at a specific smart environment challenge (SmartCampus2025) and discussed its ethical and social implications.

Besides the hands-on course, the biggest value is the comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach combining all relevant disciplinary perspectives, which is crucial. ATHIKA online training illustrates good practice on how future health industry specialists could be educated and ethical governance challenges could be faced.