Will robots be in our future? In modern times we use AI technology in our daily lives like the Siri function in our iPhones and the Alexa in our homes. However, to us these AI technologies conduct minuscule tasks, how would we feel if they were operating on us, taking care of us in our old age, drawing blood, etc. Modern medicine has progressed to using robots for surgeries, like the Da Vinci Surgical System (Rigby 2019). The da Vinci Surgical System is a robotic surgical system that was designed to perform surgery using a minimally invasive approach while being controlled by a surgeon using a console. In recent years the use of AI technology has brought up questions of what else could we use this for? If we start to use robots for more minuscule tasks like cleaning surgical rooms, checking on patients, or even comforting them through hard times what type of ethical implications does that bring up (Fiske 2019).
Humans are naturally curious as to what we can create and how we can make life easier for us, however, how do we know when we cross the line. The argument that all the technological medical advancements made in the healthcare field it can hurt the workers we have now. There are advantages to increasing the number of machines in the workforce for example machines do not need sleep or food, they do not have any prejudice, and they will not have any opinions about completing the same monotonous task repeatedly, like washing the hospital floor or delivering medicine to patients (Fiske 2019).On the other hand, increasing the number of robots takes away jobs from people that truly care about treating patients and making a difference in the healthcare industry.
In 2018 a study was conducted in Poland by researchers who wanted to gather information from future medical professionals about their opinions on using medical robots to act as caregivers to the elderly. The researchers had discovered a trend that there had been an increase in the number of elderlies living alone which had increased the demand of caregivers needed. The researchers hypothesized that the use of assistive robots can help relieve this burden and help solve the problem of not having enough caregivers. The researcher conducted the survey with 178 students all of which were from the Poznan University of Medical Science in Poznan, Poland. Of the 178 students, there were 110 nursing students and sixty-eight medical students. To conduct the survey the researchers used the User’s Needs, Requirements, and Abilities Questionnaire. The User’s Needs, Requirements, and Abilities Questionnaire is a questionnaire that evaluates a problem and then generates solutions to the problem. In this case, the students were faced with the situation of using assistive robots as caregivers and the students had to present their opinions about it. After the surveys were collected the general opinion collected was that these future medical professionals would be open to the idea of implementing Artificial Intelligence into caregiver positions (Lukasik 2020).
However, in this study there were aspects that could be improved upon, one aspect is this study’s method for conducting their research by only surveying students all from the same university and they did not disclose how they chose the students that participated in their study. This is a limitation in this study because how this school may integrate artificial intelligence science into their curriculum, compared to other universities that may or may not implement this information into their curriculum makes a difference in the opinions formed. Another aspect was that the researchers seemed to have only used the User’s Needs, Requirements, and Abilities Questionnaire and not anything else to collect opinions from the students and they did not disclose how their survey was formatted. Without knowing how the survey is formatted and the questions that were asked then the readers will not know if the question were misleading or had any response bias. Another point that questions the reliability of the study is that will the same conclusions and opinions gathered be applicable to other countries in the world.
Overall, there are pros and cons to increasing the use of medical robots in the healthcare field. On one hand, whenever there is a lack of healthcare workers present medical robots can jump in and help in a crisis. With that comes the argument that increasing the use of medical robots will take away from humans that are dedicated to the job. The solution to this situation is to compromise by either having the resources available while still not oversaturating the field. This situation needs to be approached with balance and thought in order for both medical professionals and patients to get the best care in their times of need.
Fiske A,Henningsen P, Buyx A. 2019. Your robot therapist will see you now: ethical implications of embodied artificial intelligence in psychiatry, psychology, and psychotherapy. J Med Internet Res: 21(5):e13216
Lukasik S, Tobias S, Kropinska S, Suwalska A. 2020. Role of assistive robots in the care of older people: survey study among medical and nursing students. J Med Internet Res: 2020;22(8):e18003.DOI: 10.2196/18003
Rigby M. 2019. Ethical Dimensions of Using Artificial Intelligence in Health Care. AMA Journal of Ethics. 2019;21(2): E121-124
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