Empirical ethics to explore the acceptability of AI in healthcare


Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death among women worldwide. Early detection is key for successful treatment and researchers are now exploring how artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to interpret mammogram scans. As part of the newly launched project AICare, Uppsala University’s Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics are using empirical research to support ethical discussion about using AI-based tools in the health care system. 

AICare is funded by the Swedish national research program WASP-HS. The project is led by Ana Nordberg at Lund University, supported by colleagues Jennifer Viberg Johansson and Santa Slokenberga at Uppsala University. Its overall aim is to issue recommendations on how to protect patient safety in an age when self-learning algorithms gain access to large amounts of health data. Taking a closer look at the Swedish legal framework that governs our health care system, and the acceptability of deploying AI-based tools in health care.

The AICare project collaborates with the Karolinska Institute’s project ScreenTrust CAD which is working to improve diagnostic tools to increase chances of early detection of breast cancer using image-based artificial intelligence. Together with the Royal Institute of Technology and Capio S:t Göran Hospital, they are exploring how AI can be used to improve and support the interpretation of mammogram scans.

“We will explore how radiologists experience and perceive this mode of working and how women themselves feel about their mammogram scans being used to train and develop artificial intelligence. This puts us at the crossroads of an always-present ethical issue, the trade-off between better health and decreased integrity. Our preference study will provide insight into how women weigh these two values against each other, and our qualitative work will help capture the radiologists’ perspectives on these new developments,” says Jennifer Viberg Johansson, researcher at Uppsala University’s Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics. 

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Last modified: 2022-01-10