Digital twins running amok? Open questions for the ethics of an emerging medical technology

Journal of Medical Ethics 47 (6):407-408 (2021)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Digital twinning in medicine refers to the idea of simulating a person’s organs, muscles or perhaps their entire body, in order to arrive more effectively at accurate diagnoses, to make treatment recommendations that reflect chances of success and possible side-effects, and to better understand the long-term trajectory of an individual’s overall condition. Digital twins, in these ways, build on the recent movement toward personalised medicine,1 and they undoubtedly present us with exciting opportunities to advance our health. Of course, the opportunities are accompanied by newfound challenges—a common refrain in discussions surrounding emerging technologies. In a recent article, Matthias Braun surveys numerous problems, including the precision of simulations, ownership and consent to the use of digital models, and issues of justice in assuring equitable access to novel medical systems.2 In particular, he places special emphasis on the notion of representation. According to Braun, proper representation naturally calls for correspondence—namely a precise model offering dynamic, real-time feedback as well as transparency, both for the patient and the practitioner, in terms of the data being employed. While technical challenges remain, these goals are quite clear and relatively uncontroversial. Where a host of questions arise, however, is in the discussion on the interaction between the represented persons and their simulations. Alongside questions regarding ownership of one’s digital twin, Braun raises the concern that ‘giving …



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 76,419

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Near-term ethical challenges of digital twins.Brent Mittelstadt - 2021 - Journal of Medical Ethics 47 (6):405-406.
Anticipating ethical issues in emerging IT.Philip A. E. Brey - 2012 - Ethics and Information Technology 14 (4):305-317.
The ethics of digital well-being: a thematic review.Christopher Burr, Mariarosaria Taddeo & Luciano Floridi - 2020 - Science and Engineering Ethics 26 (4):2313–⁠2343.
Digitalization and global ethics.Zonghao Bao & Kun Xiang - 2006 - Ethics and Information Technology 8 (1):41-47.
How to fairly incentivise digital contact tracing.Michele Loi - 2021 - Journal of Medical Ethics 47 (12):e76-e76.


Added to PP

8 (#989,199)

6 months
2 (#300,644)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Citations of this work

Ethics of digital twins: four challenges.Matthias Braun - 2022 - Journal of Medical Ethics 48 (9):579-580.

Add more citations