Artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare and research

Bioethics Briefing Note

Published 15/05/2018

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This briefing note examines the current and potential applications of AI in healthcare, its limits, and the ethical issues arising from its use.

Overview

  • AI is being used or trialled for a range of healthcare and research purposes, including detection of disease, management of chronic conditions, delivery of health services, and drug discovery.
  • AI has the potential to help address important health challenges, but might be limited by the quality of available health data, and by the inability of AI to display some human characteristics.
  • The use of AI raises ethical issues, including: the potential for AI to make erroneous decisions; the question of who is responsible when AI is used to support decision-making; difficulties in validating the outputs of AI systems; inherent biases in the data used to train AI systems; ensuring the protection of potentially sensitive data; securing public trust in the development and use of AI; 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.
  • A key challenge will be ensuring that AI is developed and used in a way that is transparent and compatible with the public interest, whilst stimulating and driving innovation in the sector.

Project team

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Catherine Joynson

Assistant Director

Catherine is part of the senior management team. She is responsible for leading a range of Council projects including the active response programme (e.g. Bioethics briefing notes) and its horizon scanning work. Catherine speaks on behalf of the Council on a range of ethical issues.

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Ran Svenning Berg

Research Officer (Maternity leave)

Ranveig undertakes research to support the Council’s work and monitors developments in areas of interest to the Council. Prior to this she was the Communications Officer at the Council, and before that managed communications at the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) and completed a BA in Development Studies and International Relations at London Metropolitan University.

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Arzoo Ahmed

Research Officer (maternity cover)

Arzoo is undertaking research as part of the Council’s active response programme and its horizon scanning work. Prior to joining the Council, Arzoo was director at the Centre for Islam and Medicine and a research associate at the Office for Public Management. Arzoo is completing an MA in philosophy at King’s College London, and graduated with a BA in Physics and an MPhil in Medieval Arabic Thought from the University of Oxford.

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