Reports  |    |  October 15, 2019

AI and Ethics in the Health Innovation Community

Report. EIT Health pilot of the AI & ethics guidelines of the European Commission’s (EC) High-Level Group. 15 pages.

Executive Summary:

Important and rapid progress is being made in AI for health and care innovation.

In parallel, the issue of responsible, ethical use of AI has risen to the top of political agendas. A High-Level Group established by the European Commission issued guidelines for AI and ethics in April 2019. Incoming European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, has committed to putting forward AI legislation in the first 100 days of her mandate.

Ethical use of AI is of the utmost importance for EIT Health, a network of best-in-class health innovators backed by the European Union.

Responding to the European Commission’s invitation to pilot the guidelines, EIT Health ran an AI and ethics survey to which 82 innovators, start-ups, and other stakeholders from 21 countries responded. The survey, though limited in size, is complemented by case studies in this report. Combined, they provide a relevant early indication of how the health innovation community deals with the ethics of AI in their field. It is still early days for the AI and ethics guidelines: only 22% of respondents were already aware of them. The survey itself was therefore an important awareness-raising tool.

The survey shows that the highest priority for ethics of AI in health innovation is given to privacy and data governance (which includes data protection and access to data), technical robustness and safety (which includes cyber-resilience and reproducibility of the AI), followed by traceability and human agency and oversight. Generally, respondents feel that AI should assist rather than be relied upon completely.

Lower ranked though still relevant were the ethics of diversity, non-discrimination and fairness; accountability (established methods appear to be considered adequate); and societal and environmental well-being. Finally, a clear majority (60%) of respondents expect that their AI solution will require regulatory approval. The survey suggests recommendations for further work to the EC and to EIT Health.

EIT Health also organised a panel on AI and ethics in health innovation at the WHS 2019 in Berlin on 27 October, with high-level participants from policy, industry, and academia. Finally, EIT Health organised a session at European Health Forum Gastein 2019 entitled “AI: It’s not (just) about the technology!” This addressed the impact of AI on clinical roles and organisational structure as well as on the education and skill set needs of healthcare professionals. [ . . . ]