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AI in health care – time for a binding legal instrument with global reach

PACE’s Social Affairs Committee is calling for a “dedicated legal instrument”, preferably binding and with global reach, to ensure Artificial Intelligence respects human rights principles, particularly in health care. It would lay down benchmarks in areas such as privacy, confidentiality, the safety of data, informed consent and liability.

Approving a report on the challenges ahead posed by AI in health care, prepared by Selin Sayek Böke (Turkey, SOC), the committee urged governments to build comprehensive national strategies for AI use in health care and set up systems to evaluate and authorise health-related AI applications – including implantable and wearable medical devices – for their safety and rights-compatibility.

AI applications were driving a “paradigm shift” away from one-size-fits-all treatment to precision medicine tailored to the individual, bringing both benefits and risks to public health, it pointed out.

Such applications should “not replace human judgement completely” so that decisions in professional health care are always “validated” by adequately trained health professionals, the committee said in a draft recommendation.

The parliamentarians called for further work on good governance of personal health data, to prevent any state or commercial misuse, while at the same time enabling its use for AI-powered enhancements of public health, opening the way to “learning health systems”.