03. 26. 2007
Computers to make life-or-death decisions?
An article in Scientific American asks the question, "How would you feel if your fate was in the 'hands' of a computer?" A study by the National Institutes of Health suggests that computers may be better at determinining the wishes of incapacitated individuals than their family members. For a particular individual, the proposed software program would predict the patient's decision by calling up profiles of patients with similar background in terms of race, education, age, illness, and other factors.
The Terri Schiavo case certainly made more of us aware of the potential anguish faced by family members when our wishes haven't been clearly documented (or even when they have been), and the question of who among our family members is in the best position to make decisions on your behalf. It remains to be seen whether computer technology of this sort promises to ease some of the burden of heart-wrenching choices or will make this gray area in medical decision-making even murkier and more fraught with potential legal trouble than it already is.
Read the full article: Motherboard Knows Best: Should a Computer Make Life-or-Death Decisions?