Artificial intelligence and the caring relationship: ethical profiles

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Rosagemma Ciliberti
Valeria Schiavone
Linda Alfano


Artificial Intelligence, black box, ethics of AI, doctor-patient relationship, emerging technologies, opacity, machine learning


Use of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare can offer multiple and discordant contributions.  These technologies may enable health workers to reduce the time needed for routine bureaucratic activities, sometimes sterile and distracting regarding the interests of the sick person and allow them to increase the patient's listening space and willingness to engage in a caring relationship. On the other hand, this automated cognitive assistance may also reduce or undermine the relational skills and abilities of the healthcare staff themselves.

For these reasons, the impact of AI on clinical care and the doctor-patient relationship requires careful ethical consideration. There is a need to develop ethical criteria to protect patients' self-determination, ensuring transparency, equality of opportunity, privacy and safety. Therefore, a primary focus should be on training healthcare personnel in technological, ethical and social issues. In addition, special attention should also be paid to enhancing ethical discussion in the training courses of engineers, computer scientists and developers, with particular reference to the impact of design in the application of technologies on humans. Finally, the authors emphasize the need to foster a growing awareness in the population of the opportunities and risks of new technologies.

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