Ethical and robotic surgery
The rapid developments in robotic technologies over the past decades have naturally favored the use of robotic devices for medicine and health, for example for surgery, diagnostics, rehabilitation and prosthetic. All of these applications raise ethical considerations, which are greatly accelerated by the growing fear of ways in which AI can harm human physical and mental integrity, and most importantly, reduce human autonomy.
A general concern is that people will trust these machines to make decisions that are actually beyond the capabilities of the machines, and this reliance on machines will effectively reduce human action in ethically important areas. Researchers provide a taxonomy of ethically relevant problems concerning robots in general, usefully dividing them into problems that arise from treating a robot as a kind of manipulator of mechanical amplification to achieve a specific goal in relation to the treatment of the robot as a moral agent and thus perhaps imbue the machine with more capabilities than it actually possesses.
The analysis of the different types of cases leads to the development of an ethical “impact factor” (such an impact factor could serve as an indirect measure for the wider field of robot ethics, which brings together ethical, social and economic questions).
Some researchers argue that the ethical impact of new technologies will be quite low because they can be equated with existing paradigms of technological responsibility. For example, researchers discuss prospective and retrospective liability issues related to medical robotics; it is suggested that the existing conceptual and legal frameworks are sufficient to properly address the liability issues related to injuries caused by medical robots.
In fact, ethical questions regarding surgical robotics vary depending on the autonomy of the robot. Thus, if the robot is not autonomous, like the current surgical assistance robots, there are fewer ethical problems.
It is essential to emphasize the training of the surgeon in the use of robotic technology, bearing in mind that each brand is different. Manufacturers of surgical robots often provide training for surgeons. There are also simulators, dual console systems or tele-mentoring.
Although robot-assisted surgery has some highly recognized advantages, the disadvantages in terms of increased duration of the procedure, problems or lack of feedback prove that the patient must be properly informed in order to consent to the procedure.
Whether in the United States or Europe, the surgeon must obtain the informed consent of the patient before performing the surgical procedure. The surgeon should discuss all possible risks, alongside the benefits, alternative solutions, as well as the consequences of the operation.
It is worth considering whether the AI / ML methods used to perform complex tasks such as surgery can themselves be used to empower robots with ethically appropriate responses to a variety of situations.