How Artificial Intelligence Is Transforming Medicine
A major ethical dilemma comes into place when considering who would be held responsible if the AI robots made an error.
The error could range anywhere from giving a false diagnosis to a treatment which led to a fatality, depending on the extent of the robots usage and level of mistakes made.
It’s impossible to hold the robot accountable morally for the mistake so the responsibility would need to fall onto somebody else.
For example, if a doctor is working in parallel with the AI and the robot makes a poor decision or assumption in a task at hand, would the doctor be given full responsibility for the error which occurred?
The robot bases its decisions off of the information and knowledge it has been fed so it’s impractical to understand exactly how it came to its conclusion making it an improbable task for the doctor using the AI to be certain of its decision.
Another option would be to hold the designers of the AI responsible for the errors, but this also has its challenges.
When you consider a design team for such a large program, the team would have hundreds of contributors and determining exactly who is to blame is an unlikely if not impossible feat.
Finally, the organization running the AI could be held responsible.
As with the other options, this has its own concerns. Hart says this is similar to “holding every car manufacturer responsible for how others have used its product”.
Death or false diagnosis are a couple of issues that somebody would need to be held responsible for but another issue which has arisen in the past is data sharing of private information.
In 2017, IBM Watson’s project with MD Anderson Cancer Centre had to be halted due to this very issue of data sharing confidential patient data .
Again determining who was legally responsible for this error was a battle. Until it can be determined who is to be held responsible for issues such as the ones presented, AI as a whole and AI in healthcare specifically has a challenge to overcome.
As it currently stands, it is difficult to determine who is to take responsibility for the issues associated with AI robots and this is in clear violation of EGBC’s second point in their code of ethics: “Undertake and accept responsibility for professional assignments only when qualified by training or experience”.
As artificial intelligence technology become more prevalent in the medical and healthcare industries, there will be an inevitable transition from human to machine-operated labor.
This main issue lies in the most distinguishable differences between man and AI — what humans lack in data retention and processing capabilities, AI has in endless amounts.
For example, hospitals today are required to employ many surgeons whose practices cover the broad spectrum of healthcare, ranging from diabetes to cancer.
Through years of training and exposure to their specific fields of study, surgeons can apply their knowledge to the best of their ability and determine the best course(s) of action for a given patient.
However, even though the surgeon may be considered a specialist in their respective field, they are only capable of possessing so much knowledge as individual human beings.
If an anomaly was presented to a surgeon who had never witnessed such a unique case and they were forced to act swiftly, the situation could quickly become dire and threaten the life of the patient.
This problem could potentially be solved by applying the power of AI.
By accumulating data from surgeries performed across the world, the AI could assist a surgeon before and during the surgery by notifying them of potential problems that may arise, and how to perform the surgery in the most efficient and effective manner in live time.
This is because AI can incorporate the experiences of previous surgeries done by doctors from around the world.
Note that this surgeon may not necessarily have to be a specialist in a field, but rather someone who could follow the specific directions that the AI provides them — thus leading to “a lesser reliance on human expertise”, as stated by an Italian researcher.
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