Should we replace some part of doctoring and nursing with artificial intelligence and robots? At one level this is the same question as should we replace markets with government planning? The thing we desire to know is not are there, or even what are they, problems with AI, robots or markets. We want to know what is the balance of problems between those and doctors, nurses and government planning. It's the net position that matters, not the identification of a problem or two either side.
As we might put it, there's no value in shrieking market failure without also pointing out planning and government fail at times too.
As we start to see these possibilities as fantastic rather than fantastical, we must also be aware of unintended consequences. What impact would doctors increasingly coming to rely on algorithms have on the body of medical knowledge? And how do we mitigate the risk that algorithms may not be sufficiently sensitive to everything going on in a patient’s life? For example, a patient with a high level of anxiety and stress may suffer an impact that no machine is able to capture. Algorithms will also have to be assessed to ensure they are not biased against certain groups, especially as they make decisions which may have very long-lasting consequences on individuals.
In detail that's to fail to ask whether humans might be biased against certain groups - not our historical experience really, is it? - or that all NHS employees are exquisitely sensitive, even that each doctor is aware of all of medical knowledge.
This is the same grand delusion as insisting that because markets aren't perfect therefore government must be. To insist upon the existence of market failure but refuse to note government failure..
Ivana Bartoletti is a privacy and data protection professional, and chairs the Fabian Women’s Network
Ah, yes, that explains the belief in that delusion, doesn't it?