Doctors or Devices?

Artificial intelligence (AI) promises significant changes to how we receive medical advice. Applications like PTSD Coach allow users to input symptoms and receive treatment options, while the popular genetic testing service 23andMe screens for genetic health risks. AI can lower medical costs and increase access to care. Still, these technologies carry some risk. Should those risks be regulated more like those from medical devices or doctors? In a recent paper, Professor Jane Bambauer of the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law suggests that regulators should consider treating AI much like they treat human professionals. She shows how the legal duties that govern doctors—namely the duty of competence, the duty of confidentiality, the duty to warn, and duties to avoid conflicts of interest—could be applied to medical AI. Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates medical AI in the same way as conventional medical devices. In…

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