Sylvie Delacroix (University College London - Faculty of Laws) has posted Ethics, Expert Systems and the Professions on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Tomorrow’s “professional workshop” is more likely than not to rely heavily on automated systems, whether they are conceived as mere decision-aids or whether they actually replace professionals in some or most of the tasks they accomplish. Can such systems be designed in such a way as to counteract the negative effects of habituation, and improve the situational awareness that conditions a professional meeting her ethical responsibility? This paper’s endeavour to answer that question leads to two distinct theses.
First, this paper demarcates the professions from other types of expert service providers. In doing so, it makes a bold claim: of those expert services whose safe delivery is in the public interest, healthcare, legal services and education stand out because they give rise to a very particular type of vulnerability. The third section of this paper highlights the latter and argues that the responsibility that stems from the particular type of vulnerability encountered in those three fields can and should ground an understanding of the “professions” that has been (re)defined around it (and is hence restricted to only encompasses healthcare, legal services and education).
As a second thesis, this paper argues that the success criterion for emerging uses of expert systems in the professions should not just be whether they improve the affordability, quality and accountability of the professions’ services (as the Susskinds’ recent The future of the professions suggests). On those three counts, a lot of expert systems are likely to be successful. Yet it will be nothing short of a catastrophe if expert systems fail to assist professionals in meeting the key challenge outlined earlier: i.e. how to preserve the situational awareness necessary to counter the effects of habituation and to meet their particular ethical responsibility.