The heart of the matter: Patient autonomy as a model for the wellbeing of technology users
We draw on concepts in medical ethics to consider how computer science, and AI in particular, can develop critical tools for thinking concretely about technology’s impact on the wellbeing of the people who use it. We focus on patient autonomy—the ability to set the terms of ones encounter with medicine—and on the mediating concepts of informed consent and decisional capacity, which enable doctors to honor patients’ autonomy in messy and non-ideal circumstances. This comparative study is organized around a fictional case study of a heart patient with cardiac implants. Using this case study, we identify points of overlap and of difference between medical ethics and technology ethics, and leverage a discussion of that intertwined scenario to offer initial practical suggestions about how we can adapt the concepts of decisional capacity and informed consent to the discussion of technology design.