Technologies: Creating Them or… Being Created by Algorithms?

The rise of eHealth innovation boosts not only new enlightening prospects for healthcare, but also raises many legal, social and ethical dilemmas. How to adopt society to the machines collecting personal data, and to develop an appropriate moral framework?

To encourage such discussion and to come up with new findings, University of Tartu has hosted an online Ethics and Governance Workshop, powered by the European Commission funded project ATHIKA. The project aims to create better health and healthcare outcomes as well as explore the potential of health technologies to endanger trust and to compromise people’s privacy as well their data.

The workshop started with Mats Volberg, PhD, researcher in practical philosophy in University of Tartu and a practicing lawyer, provoking the audience with the question whether it is okay for machines to spy on us if we are getting something in return for it? Ultimately any kind of technology use often means a trade-off in values – we give up something in order to gain something else.

Mr Volberg assured that ethics can regulate technologies. However, the greatest challenge is the evaluation process, as universal standards to measure the ethics do not exist. It can only be based on the showcase of the efforts in protecting privacy, autonomy and conscious decisions before the implications of technology are made.

Most of the challenges come from the fact that technologies are changing our lives in a way we are not fully controlling. Andreu Ulied, engineer and entrepreneur, head of urban planning and consultancy company MCRIT, emphasized that we must be proactive about improving technologies as machines are not sensitive to treat exceptional problems as exceptions.

Are we creating technologies or technologies are creating the new reality of humans? It is highly expected that machines will be embedded in our bodies and will have human characteristics in the nearest future. Thus, incorporating morality and ethics into technologies needs to become universal.

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