Coverage of ethics within the artificial intelligence and machine learning academic literature: The case of disabled people

Assist Technol. 2019 Apr 17;1-7. doi: 10.1080/10400435.2019.1593259. Online ahead of print.


Disabled people are often the anticipated users of scientific and technological products and processes advanced and enabled by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Disabled people are also impacted by societal impacts of AI/ML. Many ethical issues are identified within AI/ML as fields and within individual applications of AI/ML. At the same time, problems have been identified in how ethics discourses engage with disabled people. The aim of our scoping review was to better understand to what extent and how the AI/ML focused academic literature engaged with the ethics of AI/ML in relation to disabled people. Of the n = 1659 abstracts engaging with AI/ML and ethics downloaded from Scopus (which includes all Medline articles) and the 70 databases of EBSCO ALL, we found 54 relevant abstracts using the term "patient" and 11 relevant abstracts mentioning terms linked to "impair*", "disab*" and "deaf". Our study suggests a gap in the literature that should be filled given the many AI/ML related ethical issues identified in the literature and their impact on disabled people.

Keywords: artificial intelligence; disabled people; ethics; machine learning; people with disabilities.