Rules for Robots, and Why AI/ML Medical Software Breaks Them by Barbara J. Evans, PhD, JD, LLM

Monday, Mar 22, 2021
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
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Isaac Asimov’s Laws for Robots placed intelligent robots under three ethical duties eerily similar to the Belmont Report’s respect for persons, beneficence, and justice. Law scholars Jack Balkin and Frank Pasquale suggest that laws for AI/ML systems are best directed not at the robots but at humans who program them, use them, and let ourselves be governed by them. Recent theorizations of the perils of AI/ML software focus heavily on the problem of modern surveillance societies where citizens are relentlessly tracked, analyzed, and scored as they go about their daily lives. It is tempting for bioethicists to draw on these rich theorizations, but doing so mis-frames the challenges and opportunities of the healthcare context in which AI/ML clinical decision support software operates. This talk identifies distinctive features of the healthcare setting that make AI/ML medical software likely to break the emerging rules about how to protect human dignity in a modern surveillance society. Protecting patients in an AI/ML-enabled clinical heath care setting is a different problem. It requires fresh, context-appropriate thinking about a set of privacy, bias, and accountability issues that this talk sets out for debate.

Barbara J. Evans is Professor of Law and Stephen C. O’Connell Chair at University of Florida’s Levin College of Law and Professor of Engineering at UF’s Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering. Her work focuses on data privacy and the regulation of machine-learning medical software, genomic technologies, and diagnostic testing. She is an elected member of the American Law Institute, a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and was named a Greenwall Foundation Faculty Scholar in Bioethics for 2010-2013. Before coming to academia, she was a partner in the international regulatory practice of a large New York law firm and is admitted to the practice of law in New York and Texas. She holds a BS in electrical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, an MS & PhD from Stanford University, a JD from Yale Law School, an LLM in Health Law from the University of Houston Law Center, and she completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Clinical Ethics at the MD Anderson Cancer Center.