Scientific Associate, Hellenic National Bioethics Commission
Ethics Expert, European Commission
Title of Paper:
Artificial intelligence and precision medicine: Applications and ethical issues”.
Subdisciplinary Area: Bioethics
Keywords: Artificial intelligence, precision medicine, bioethics
Abstract: Precision medicine is an emerging approach for the prevention of diseases and the development of targeted and more efficient therapies, taking into account an individual’s genetic makeup, the environmental factors that he/she has been exposed to and his/her lifestyle. For the development of precision medicine, it is necessary to use big data from patients. Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) facilitate the analysis of large datasets and, therefore, scientists turn to such approaches. AI algorithms have already been developed for the prevention and diagnosis of various types of cancer or cardiovascular diseases.
However, the use of AI in precision medicine raises ethical issues. First of all, the development of AI encompasses the collection, processing and sharing of sensitive health data, posing risk to the privacy of the persons involved, while frequently, anonymisation is not enough. In parallel, AI is learning based on the available data. For example, some ethnic groups are under-represented in genetic databases, and therefore, machine learning algorithms may lead to biased conclusions putting the reliability of the diagnoses and therapies in question. In such cases, apart from the obvious issue of unequal access to the benefits of precision medicine, the issue of responsibility and accountability in case of mistakes is also posed.