The heart of the matter: Patient autonomy as a model for the wellbeing of technology users

Emanuelle Burton, Kristel Clayville, Judy Goldsmith, Nicholas Mattei

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


We draw on concepts in medical ethics to consider how computer science, and AI in particular, can develop critical tools for thinking concretely about technology’s impact on the wellbeing of the people who use it. We focus on patient autonomy—the ability to set the terms of ones encounter with medicine—and on the mediating concepts of informed consent and decisional capacity, which enable doctors to honor patients’ autonomy in messy and non-ideal circumstances. This comparative study is organized around a fictional case study of a heart patient with cardiac implants. Using this case study, we identify points of overlap and of difference between medical ethics and technology ethics, and leverage a discussion of that intertwined scenario to offer initial practical suggestions about how we can adapt the concepts of decisional capacity and informed consent to the discussion of technology design.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
StatePublished - 2018
Event2018 AAAI Spring Symposium - Palo Alto, United States
Duration: Mar 26 2018Mar 28 2018


Conference2018 AAAI Spring Symposium
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityPalo Alto

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2018, Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence ( All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence


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