oa South African Journal of Bioethics and Law - Healthcare, artificial intelligence and the Fourth Industrial Revolution : ethical, social and legal considerations

Volume 11 Number 2
  • ISSN : 1999-7639



Artificial intelligence (AI) is usually associated with high-tech robotics, automation and science fiction, and can seem daunting to some. However, AI in general has grown considerably over the past 50 years, and is the current driving force behind the Fourth Industrial Revolution. While it proposes improvements to almost every field that it touches, including the medical sciences, ethical, social and legal challenges associated with its implementation arise. One may question whether AI, which can replace the human element by nature of its operation, has a place in South African and African communities, in certain instances. AI systems can potentially become discriminatory and lead to stigmatisation, if the systems are not properly tailored to reflect the specific characteristics of a population group. Over-reliance on the use of technology, without fully understanding the effects and consequences of the systems, could also prove to be problematic.

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