Artificial Intelligence based health care technologies: Political economy, Ethics and Law matters

Themes | Subthemes | Tags:  Justice and law | Digital health technologies
Duration: November 2018 onwards
Team:  Navneet Wadkar (2018-2019) and Sunita Sheel (2018 onwards)
Funding support:  Forum for Medical Ethics Society
Product/s delivered and expected:

  • Organized a Round Table titled, ‘Emerging AI technology in health care in India, health equity and justice: ’ on July 12, 2019.
  • A manuscript titled ‘Emerging AI technology in health care in India, health equity and justice: Critical reflections’ for publication in a peer reviewed journal [in progress]

Overview:  AI is the ability of computer-controlled machines to perform the tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. AI machines have the ability to perform complex and cognitive tasks like thinking, perceiving, learning, problem solving and decision making with the help of structured data. AI based technologies therefore stand distinct from the rest.  Across the world, interest in AI both amongst policy makers and entrepreneurs, especially those from information technology is accentuated. The number of startups is an indication of such an interest. Also, the last couple of years have witnessed policy papers developed by government think tanks or other related bodies in a number of countries including India.  For example, recently in 2018, NITI Aayog, a policy think tank of the Government of India came up with a discussion paper on AI entitled ‘National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence #AIForAll’. The report identifies five major social sectors for the implementation of AI and healthcare is one of them.

Health technologies have played a significant role in improving various aspects of people’s health in all key areas, such as, prevention, and care/cure across specialties, and in public health. However, both research and deployment of health technologies warrants close attention to their assessment to ensure issues such as resource allocation, priority setting, appreciation of risks involved and mechanisms and systems to respond to them. In the same vein, AI in health care too holds great promise, at least theoretically speaking. Drawing upon the learnings relating to health technologies – development and deployment; and more importantly given the distinctiveness of AI in health care, it requires deeper engagement with various aspects of research in AI in health care, and its deployment and overall governance mechanism. Broadly speaking, it also warrants forward looking engagement to ensure AI in health care contributes to enhancing health for all, balanced risk-benefits ratio, availability of robust governance and redressal systems for all the concerned constituencies. As a broader peer community from across the disciplines and sectors, our efforts ought to be towards responsible research and development; and deployment of AI in health care centre-staging health equity and health justice.

This initiative was to look into the political economy of AI based technologies; and to engage with the multidisciplinary peer community by organizing a round table to help us chart out key areas which require systematic explorations and in-depth research in the coming times towards responsible research and development; and deployment of AI based health care technologies. 

Past contributions: None