Percentages and reasons: AI explainability and ultimate human responsibility within the medical field

Ethics and Information Technology 26 (2):1-10 (2024)
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Abstract

With regard to current debates on the ethical implementation of AI, especially two demands are linked: the call for explainability and for ultimate human responsibility. In the medical field, both are condensed into the role of one person: It is the physician to whom AI output should be explainable and who should thus bear ultimate responsibility for diagnostic or treatment decisions that are based on such AI output. In this article, we argue that a black box AI indeed creates a rationally irresolvable epistemic situation for the physician involved. Specifically, strange errors that are occasionally made by AI sometimes detach its output from human reasoning. Within this article it is further argued that such an epistemic situation is problematic in the context of ultimate human responsibility. Since said strange errors limit the promises of explainability and the concept of explainability frequently appears irrelevant or insignificant when applied to a diverse set of medical applications, we deem it worthwhile to reconsider the call for ultimate human responsibility.

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Markus Herrmann
University of Heidelberg

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