A joint talk on ethics with PERSIST

EU4CHILD and the PERSIST project have met in a first insightful discussion about cancer and the ethics surrounding it, in an age where advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence are taking center stage.

What is PERSIST about? The PERSIST project works to provide a patients-centered survivorship care plan after cancer treatments, based on Artificial Intelligence and Big data technologies. Both in the field of oncology paired with technologies such as AI and big data, EU4CHILD and PERSIST hold deep potential synergies that must be explored in order to maximize results.

During the meeting, the power of ethics was discussed, especially when it comes to sensitive subjects such as childhood cancer and related data. Childhood cancer is a rare disease, of varied nature, requiring different approaches. When it comes to childhood cancer, the emotional distress among family members and parents is a relevant factor, affecting the treatment process, including how AI in medicine in general, and prediction models in particular, need to be understandable/explainable to a non-expert audience. The presentation was led by Norbert Graf, from the EU4CHILD consortium, and it discussed important questions related to the topic, such as:

  • How high is the risk of re-identification for anonymized medical data?
  • How freely can informed consent be given under these circumstances?
  • How can this be achieved for patients of different age groups and their parents as well?
  • Who can be responsible in the case of a diagnostic or treatment error?

A discussion highlight was how a central repository may not be suitable for AI applications, considering how medical experts have struggled to develop central solutions for the last 30 years and have so far been unable to make them work. This is because central repositories can only use fixed schemes and there are tremendous barriers against data sharing. In addition, real-time updates for AI algorithms should be considered instead of batch learning.

After a very successful first meeting, we now prepare for a second encounter in September with our PERSIST colleagues to further exploit our synergies and power towards a better approach in AI applied to cancer pathways.



Photo by Marcus Wallis on Unsplash