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Artif Intell Med. 2014 Sep;62(1):1-10. doi: 10.1016/j.artmed.2014.06.004. Epub 2014 Jul 4.

Recommendations for the ethical use and design of artificial intelligent care providers.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington School of Medicine, Box 356560, Seattle, WA 98195, United States; National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2), 9933 West Hayes Street, Madigan Annex, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Tacoma, WA 98431, United States. Electronic address:



This paper identifies and reviews ethical issues associated with artificial intelligent care providers (AICPs) in mental health care and other helping professions. Specific recommendations are made for the development of ethical codes, guidelines, and the design of AICPs.


Current developments in the application of AICPs and associated technologies are reviewed and a foundational overview of applicable ethical principles in mental health care is provided. Emerging ethical issues regarding the use of AICPs are then reviewed in detail. Recommendations for ethical codes and guidelines as well as for the development of semi-autonomous and autonomous AICP systems are described. The benefits of AICPs and implications for the helping professions are discussed in order to weigh the pros and cons of their use.


Existing ethics codes and practice guidelines do not presently consider the current or the future use of interactive artificial intelligent agents to assist and to potentially replace mental health care professionals. AICPs present new ethical issues that will have significant ramifications for the mental health care and other helping professions. Primary issues involve the therapeutic relationship, competence, liability, trust, privacy, and patient safety. Many of the same ethical and philosophical considerations are applicable to use and design of AICPs in medicine, nursing, social work, education, and ministry.


The ethical and moral aspects regarding the use of AICP systems must be well thought-out today as this will help to guide the use and development of these systems in the future. Topics presented are relevant to end users, AI developers, and researchers, as well as policy makers and regulatory boards.


Artificial intelligent agents; Care providers; Ethical codes; Ethics; Mental health; Practice guidelines

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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