domingo, 20 de mayo de 2018

BioEdge: Nuffield Council releases study of AI in healthcare

BioEdge: Nuffield Council releases study of AI in healthcare


Nuffield Council releases study of AI in healthcare
AI in healthcare is developing rapidly, with many applications currently in use or in development in the UK and worldwide. The Nuffield Council on Bioethics examines the current and potential applications of AI in healthcare, and the ethical issues arising from its use, in a new briefing note, Artificial Intelligence (AI) in healthcare and research.

There is much hope and excitement surrounding the use of AI in healthcare. It has the potential to make healthcare more efficient and patient-friendly; speed up and reduce errors in diagnosis; help patients manage symptoms or cope with chronic illness; and help avoid human bias and error. A number of AI applications are already in use:

  • Early detection of infectious disease outbreaks and sources of epidemics, such as water contamination.
  • Prediction of adverse drug reactions, which are estimated to cause up to 6.5% of hospital admissions in the UK.
  • Information tools or chat-bots driven by AI are being used to help manage chronic medical conditions.
  • Robotic tools controlled by AI have been used in research to carry out specific tasks in keyhole surgery, such as tying knots to close wounds.
  • Analysing speech patterns to predict psychotic episodes and identify and monitor symptoms of neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease
  • Analysing medical scans.
But there are some important questions to consider: who is responsible for the decisions made by AI systems? Will increasing use of AI lead to a loss of human contact in care? What happens if AI systems are hacked? The Nuffield Council briefing note outlines the ethical issues raised by the use of AI in healthcare, such as:

  • the potential for AI to make erroneous decisions;
  • who is responsible when AI is used to support decision-making?
  • difficulties in validating the outputs of AI systems;
  • the risk of inherent bias in the data used to train AI systems;
  • ensuring the security and privacy of potentially sensitive data;
  • securing public trust in the development and use of AI technology;
  • effects on people's sense of dignity and social isolation in care situations;
  • effects on the roles and skill-requirements of healthcare professionals; and
  • the potential for AI to be used for malicious purposes.
The briefing note outlines some of the key ethical issues that need to be considered if the benefits of AI technology are to be realised, and public trust maintained. The challenge, says the Nuffield Council, will be to ensure that innovation in AI is developed and used in ways that are transparent, that address societal needs, and that are consistent with public values.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Shusaku Endo may be the greatest Japanese novelist who didn’t win the Nobel Prize. He is best known in the West for his novel Silence, about Christianity in 17th Century Japan, which was recently made into a film by Martin Scorsese. But one of his early novels touches upon the ethics of clinical research. Based upon a historical incident which took place just weeks before the end of World War II, The Sea and Poison relates the moral corruption of doctors who vivisected several American prisoners of war.

It’s hard to get, but well worth reading, as it exemplifies the hazards of research on prisoners. Almost no population is more vulnerable to exploitation by clinical researchers than prisoners. Even if they benefit from the research in some tangential way, a more powerful motivation may be their desire to please prison authorities.

Many bioethicists have written about this difficult ethical issue, but this doesn’t make it any easier to make a decision in practice. Below is an article about proposed clinical trial conducted in prisons to determine whether low-salt diets are healthier. What do you think?

Michael Cook
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