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Governance of artificial intelligence and personal health information

Jenifer Sunrise Winter (School of Communications, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA)
Elizabeth Davidson (Shidler College of Business, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA)

Digital Policy, Regulation and Governance

ISSN: 2398-5038

Article publication date: 12 February 2019

Issue publication date: 17 July 2019




This paper aims to assess the increasing challenges to governing the personal health information (PHI) essential for advancing artificial intelligence (AI) machine learning innovations in health care. Risks to privacy and justice/equity are discussed, along with potential solutions.


This conceptual paper highlights the scale and scope of PHI data consumed by deep learning algorithms and their opacity as novel challenges to health data governance.


This paper argues that these characteristics of machine learning will overwhelm existing data governance approaches such as privacy regulation and informed consent. Enhanced governance techniques and tools will be required to help preserve the autonomy and rights of individuals to control their PHI. Debate among all stakeholders and informed critique of how, and for whom, PHI-fueled health AI are developed and deployed are needed to channel these innovations in societally beneficial directions.

Social implications

Health data may be used to address pressing societal concerns, such as operational and system-level improvement, and innovations such as personalized medicine. This paper informs work seeking to harness these resources for societal good amidst many competing value claims and substantial risks for privacy and security.


This is the first paper focusing on health data governance in relation to AI/machine learning.



Winter, J.S. and Davidson, E. (2019), "Governance of artificial intelligence and personal health information", Digital Policy, Regulation and Governance, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 280-290.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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