Artificial agents, good care, and modernity

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 36 (4):265-277 (2015)
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Abstract

When is it ethically acceptable to use artificial agents in health care? This article articulates some criteria for good care and then discusses whether machines as artificial agents that take over care tasks meet these criteria. Particular attention is paid to intuitions about the meaning of ‘care’, ‘agency’, and ‘taking over’, but also to the care process as a labour process in a modern organizational and financial-economic context. It is argued that while there is in principle no objection to using machines in medicine and health care, the idea of them functioning and appearing as ‘artificial agents’ is problematic and attends us to problems in human care which were already present before visions of machine care entered the stage. It is recommended that the discussion about care machines be connected to a broader discussion about the impact of technology on human relations in the context of modernity

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Mark Coeckelbergh
University of Vienna