The potential and pitfalls of AI in healthcare

The potential and pitfalls of AI in healthcare

In a new briefing note, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics explores artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare and research, including current and potential applications and ethical issues surrounding its use.

Among the ethical issues explored in the note are:

  • 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;
  • The potential for AI to be used for malicious purposes.

"The potential applications of AI in healthcare are being explored through a number of promising initiatives across different sectors – by industry, health sector organisations and through government investment. While their aims and interests may vary, there are some common ethical issues that arise from their work,” said Hugh Whittall, Director of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics. “Our 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. These are live questions that set out an agenda for newly-established bodies like the UK Government Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, and the Ada Lovelace Institute. The challenge will be to ensure that innovation in AI is developed and used in ways that are transparent, that address societal needs, and are consistent with public values."