A Comparative Data Protection Analysis of Healthcare Robots: On Informed Consent in Human-Robot Interaction

A Comparative Data Protection Analysis of Healthcare Robots: On Informed Consent in Human-Robot Interaction
Research Article
Yueh-Hsuan Weng
Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence and Applications, 1 January 2023
As societies across the developed world are dealing with problems associated with aging populations, a promising solution in the form robotics technologies that support elderly people in their daily healthcare has emerged. However, emerging technology are like a double-edge sword. Although healthcare robots can be used for elderly and disabled people with different levels of assistive supports, ie by monitoring their real time health for prompt interaction or by communicating with people to reduce their anxiety, they also bring with them many concerns from an ethical, legal and societal perspective. Among them, one serious issue is privacy and data protection. When healthcare robots are powered by machine learning and distributed databases, “data-driven” networked healthcare robots will be able to gather a huge amount of personal data in physical environments through their interactions with humans. There are several alternative approaches of data protection for “data-driven” networked healthcare robots, including privacy by design, de-identification of data and informed consent. In this article our focus is on the issue of informed consent in human-robot interaction. My argument is that specific conditions of intelligent robots (i.e., embodiment) will mean that the principle of informed consent cannot just be copied and applied to “data-driven” networked healthcare robots. I will make the comparison of the two types of informed consent to clarify our targeted “informed consent in human-robot interaction”. Furthermore, there is a need to discuss potential legal conflicts of this new type of informed consent when it is applied to different countries and their respective legal regimes. Hence, in this article I will conduct a comparative legal analysis of European, American and Japanese data protection law to investigate how such differences might influence the implementation of informed consent to data-driven healthcare robots.

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