Personalized Patient Preference Predictors are Neither Technically Feasible Nor Ethically Desirable

American Journal of Bioethics (forthcoming)
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Except in extraordinary circumstances, patients' clinical care should reflect their preferences. Incapacitated patients cannot report their preferences. This is a problem. Extant solutions to the problem are inadequate: surrogates are unreliable, and advance directives are uncommon. In response, some authors have suggested developing algorithmic "patient preference predictors" (PPPs) to inform care for incapacitated patients. In a recent paper, Earp et al. propose a new twist on PPPs. Earp et al. suggest we personalize PPPs using modern machine learning (ML) techniques. In this paper, I argue that, contrary to Earp et al.'s claim, personalized patient preference predictors are neither technically feasible nor ethically desirable.

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Nathaniel Sharadin
University of Hong Kong


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