An Ethical Framework for the Design, Development, Implementation, and Assessment of Drones Used in Public Healthcare

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Abstract

The use of drones in public healthcare is suggested as a means to improve efficiency under constrained resources and personnel. This paper begins by framing drones in healthcare as a social experiment where ethical guidelines are needed to protect those impacted while fully realizing the benefits the technology offers. Then we propose an ethical framework to facilitate the design, development, implementation, and assessment of drones used in public healthcare. Given the healthcare context, we structure the framework according to the four bioethics principles: beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, plus a fifth principle from artificial intelligence ethics: explicability. These principles are abstract which makes operationalization a challenge; therefore, we suggest an approach of translation according to a values hierarchy whereby the top-level ethical principles are translated into relevant human values within the domain. The resulting framework is an applied ethics tool that facilitates awareness of relevant ethical issues during the design, development, implementation, and assessment of drones in public healthcare.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2867-2891
Number of pages25
JournalScience and Engineering Ethics
Volume26
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • Applied ethics
  • Drones
  • Public healthcare
  • Robot ethics
  • Value-sensitive design (VSD)
  • Values hierarchy

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