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Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics

, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 91–110 | Cite as

Against the iDoctor: why artificial intelligence should not replace physician judgment

  • Kyle E. KarchesEmail author
Article

Abstract

Experts in medical informatics have argued for the incorporation of ever more machine-learning algorithms into medical care. As artificial intelligence (AI) research advances, such technologies raise the possibility of an “iDoctor,” a machine theoretically capable of replacing the judgment of primary care physicians. In this article, I draw on Martin Heidegger’s critique of technology to show how an algorithmic approach to medicine distorts the physician–patient relationship. Among other problems, AI cannot adapt guidelines according to the individual patient’s needs. In response to the objection that AI could develop this capacity, I use Hubert Dreyfus’s analysis of AI to argue that attention to the needs of each patient requires the physician to attune his or her perception to the patient’s history and physical exam, an ability that seems uniquely human. Human physician judgment will remain better suited to the practice of primary care despite anticipated advances in AI technology.

Keywords

Technology Artificial intelligence Electronic health records Physician judgment 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Internal MedicineSaint Louis University HospitalSaint LouisUSA

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