Voice-based AI-powered digital assistants, such as Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant, present an exciting opportunity to translate healthcare from the hospital to the home. But building a digital, medical panopticon can raise many legal and ethical challenges if not designed and implemented thoughtfully. This paper highlights the benefits and explores some of the challenges of using digital assistants to detect early signs of cognitive impairment, focusing on issues such as consent, bycatching, privacy, and regulatory oversight. By using a fictional but plausible near-future hypothetical, we demonstrate why an “ethics-by-design” approach is necessary for consumer-monitoring tools that may be used to identify health concerns for their users.
Join the #Askmeanything style discussion with author David Simon, Ph.D., J.D., LL.M., Research Fellow at the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, & Bioethics, Harvard Law School.