Ethical and technical aspects of emotions to create empathy in medical machines

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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015. This chapter analyzes the ethical challenges in healthcare when introducing medical machines able to understand and mimic human emotions. Artificial emotions is still an emergent field in artificial intelligence, so we devote some space in this paper in order to explain what they are and how we can have an machine able to recognize and mimic basic emotions. We argue that empathy is the key emotion in healthcare contexts. We discuss what empathy is and how it can be modeled to include it in a medical machine. We consider types of medical machines (telemedicine, care robots and mobile apps), and describe the main machines that are in use and offer some predictions about what the near future may bring. The main ethical problems we consider in machine medical ethics are: privacy violations (due to online patient databases), how to deal with error and responsibility concerning machine decisions and actions, social inequality (as a result of people being removed from an e-healthcare system), and how to build trust between machines, patients, and medical professionals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-362
JournalIntelligent Systems, Control and Automation: Science and Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


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