Coverage of well-being within artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics academic literature: the case of disabled people

AI and Society:1-19 (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Well-being is an important policy concept including in discussions around the use of artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics. Disabled people experience challenges in their well-being. Therefore, the aim of our scoping review study of academic abstracts employing Scopus, IEEE Xplore, Compendex and the 70 databases from EBSCO-HOST as sources was to better understand how academic literature focusing on AI/ML/robotics engages with well-being in relation to disabled people. Our objective was to answer the following research question: how and to what extent does the AI/ML/robot literature we covered include well-being in relation to disabled people? We found 2071 academic abstracts covering AI/ML and well-being, and 1055 covering robotics and well-being. Within these abstracts, only 39 covered AI/ML and 48 robotics and well-being in relation to disabled people. The tone of the coverage was techno-positive and techno-optimistic arguing that AI/ML/robotics could improve the well-being of disabled people in general or improve well-being by helping disabled people overcome their ‘disability’ or make tasks easier. No negative effects that AI/ML/robotics could have or has had on the well-being of disabled people were mentioned. Disabled people were portrayed only within patient, client, or user roles but not in their roles as stakeholders in the governance of AI/ML/robotics discussions. This biased and limited coverage of the impact of AI/ML/robotics on the well-being of disabled people disempowers disabled people.

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