NHS AI Lab: why we need to be ethically mindful about AI for healthcare


On 8th August 2019, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, announced the creation of a £250 million NHS AI Lab. This significant investment is justified on the belief that transforming the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) into a more informationally mature and heterogeneous organisation, reliant on data-based and algorithmically-driven interactions, will offer significant benefit to patients, clinicians, and the overall system. These opportunities are realistic and should not be wasted. However, they may be missed (one may recall the troubled Care.data programme) if the ethical challenges posed by this transformation are not carefully considered from the start, and then addressed thoroughly, systematically, and in a socially participatory way. To deal with this serious risk, the NHS AI Lab should create an Ethics Advisory Board and monitor, analyse, and address the normative and overarching ethical issues that arise at the individual, interpersonal, group, institutional and societal levels in AI for healthcare.

Author Profiles

Luciano Floridi
Yale University
Jessica Morley
Oxford University


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