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(2015) Machine medical ethics, Dordrecht, Springer.

Modelling consciousness-dependent expertise in machine medical moral agents

Steve Torrance, Ron Chrisley

pp. 291-316

It is suggested that some limitations of current designs for medical AI systems (be they autonomous or advisory) stem from the failure of those designs to address issues of artificial (or machine) consciousness. Consciousness would appear to play a key role in the expertise, particularly the moral expertise, of human medical agents, including, for example, autonomous weighting of options in (e.g.,) diagnosis; planning treatment; use of imaginative creativity to generate courses of action; sensorimotor flexibility and sensitivity; empathetic and morally appropriate responsiveness; and so on. Thus, it is argued, a plausible design constraint for a successful ethical machine medical or care agent is for it to at least model, if not reproduce, relevant aspects of consciousness and associated abilities. In order to provide theoretical grounding for such an enterprise we examine some key philosophical issues that concern the machine modelling of consciousness and ethics, and we show how questions relating to the first research goal are relevant to medical machine ethics. We believe that this will overcome a blanket skepticism concerning the relevance of understanding consciousness, to the design and construction of artificial ethical agents for medical or care contexts. It is thus argued that it would be prudent for designers of MME agents to reflect on issues to do with consciousness and medical (moral) expertise; to become more aware of relevant research in the field of machine consciousness; and to incorporate insights gained from these efforts into their designs.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-08108-3_18

Full citation:

Torrance, S. , Chrisley, R. (2015)., Modelling consciousness-dependent expertise in machine medical moral agents, in S. Van Rysewyk & M. Pontier (eds.), Machine medical ethics, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 291-316.

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