The Nuffield Council on Bioethics is seeking contributions to an inquiry on the ethical issues relating to the role of science and technology in helping people live well in old age.

Technologies that could have a role in helping people live well in old age include assistive technologies, communications technologies, monitoring technologies, new diagnostic and treatment options from biomedical research, design-led technologies, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality. Some of these are already used, but are likely to play a more prominent role in the future given more people are living longer.

We are seeking a wide range of views on these sorts of technologies and research projects. Our call for contributions is a key part of our ongoing inquiry on ageing, chaired by Bella Starling and supported by a working group of experts.

There are four different options you can use to share your opinions on the technologies, and any evidence you think should be taken into account. The options are: a call for evidence, a survey for practitioners who work with older people, a set of fictional scenarios people can respond to directly, and a call for people’s personal stories.

Call for evidence

Our call for evidence is designed for academics and policymakers who have an interest in ageing, although we welcome responses from anyone who would like to contribute. The questions raised in this survey are divided into five broad areas:

  • How we think about ageing
  • The aims of research and innovation in this field, and how they are prioritised
  • The design and conduct of research studies related to ageing
  • Understanding research and innovation in the wider policy context
  • Implications for who bears responsibility for healthy ageing

Survey for practitioners who work with older people

This survey is aimed at practitioners who work directly with older people. It asks for experiences of technologies in the scope of our inquiry.

Fictional scenarios

To highlight some of the issues that people might like to consider if they respond to the survey, the working group have also developed three fictional scenarios to illustrate some of the ethical issues that may arise in the way technologies are developed and deployed in the coming decades. In addition to survey responses, we would also welcome direct responses to these scenarios.

A call for stories

The working group would also like to read people’s personal stories about their interaction with these technologies – whether for their personal use, or in their work with older people. If you would like to submit a story, please email Kate Harvey.

Closing date

The closing date for all submissions is 2 August 2021.