William P. Cheshire, Jr., MD, is professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic and an expert on disorders of the autonomic nervous system. At Mayo Clinic in Florida he chairs the Ethics Committee and leads the Program in Professionalism & Values. The neurology department chose him as teacher of the year in 2015. At CMDA Dr. Cheshire chairs the Ethics Committee. He is also a senior fellow at The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity. He received his AB in biochemistry from Princeton University, his MD from West Virginia University, and his MA in bioethics from Trinity International University. He completed residency training in neurology and a fellowship in pain management at the University of North Carolina. Dr. Cheshire, his wife, Doris, and four children live in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. His personal website may be found at www.william-cheshire.com.
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Artificial Intelligence and the Christian Physician
To speak of artificial intelligence (AI) conjures dazzling images of an electronically reconfigured future managed, if not dominated, by calculating, thinking, autonomous machines. Realistically, AI has the potential to deliver numerous useful benefits to medical practice, especially as progress in medical science and healthcare delivery rely increasingly on digital technologies to store and analyze huge data sets. The health information in the human genome and the scientific content of medical journals, for example, exceed the capacity of the human brain to recall, interpret or keep up with exponential advances. AI promises to bridge that gap. Proponents are calling AI the fourth technological revolution following the neolithic transition to agriculture, the industrial revolution utilizing mechanized production and new sources of power, and the digital revolution based on computer processing of digital information.
In 1971, John Lennon published a song by the title “Imagine.” In a slow, dreamy cadence, the Beatles musician invites the listener to, “Imagine there’s no heaven; it’s easy if you try; no hell below us; above us only sky.” He continues, “Imagine there’s no countries; it isn’t hard to do; nothing to kill or die for; and no religion, too. Imagine all the people, living life in peace.”
The Robot Will See You Now: Can Medical Technology Be Professional?
Article published in Vol. 32.3 Fall 2016 Ethics and Medicine by William Cheshire, JR, MD about the problems with the term “provider” instead of “professionals.”
As innovative technology replaces more and more of what physicians do, the question arises whether there is any limit to the potential medical capabilities of technology at the bedside. Drug-dispensing kiosks, robotic surgery, computerized sedation devices, and other novel medical technologies bring practical advantages while also raising philosophical questions about the nature of the relationship between the patient and technology that serves as a proxy for the healthcare professional.
Till We Have Minds
A panel of Princeton University scientists recently gathered together to deliberate “whether strong religious belief can coexist with reliance on science.”2 Constraining their definition of truth to “factual human knowledge,” the panel, led by professor of molecular biology Lee Silver, posed the provocative question, whether “science has effectively demonstrated that religious beliefs have no place in the rational mind.”2 How one decides that question guides the answer to a related question essential for the Christian physician. How can faith in Jesus Christ coexist with medical science