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The Digital Phenotype: a Philosophical and Ethical Exploration


Loi, Michele (2019). The Digital Phenotype: a Philosophical and Ethical Exploration. Philosophy & Technology, 32(1):155-171.

Abstract

The concept of the digital phenotype has been used to refer to digital data prognostic or diagnostic of disease conditions. Medical conditions may be inferred from the time pattern in an insomniac’s tweets, the Facebook posts of a depressed individual, or the web searches of a hypochondriac. This paper conceptualizes digital data as an extended phenotype of humans, that is as digital information produced by humans and affecting human behavior and culture. It argues that there are ethical obligations to persons affected by generalizable knowledge of a digital phenotype, not only those who are personally identifiable or involved in data generation. This claim is illustrated by considering the health-related digital phenotypes of precision medicine and digital epidemiology.
Keywords Information technologies Innovation Policy making Risk, biomedical data Big data Algorithms Discrimination Genotyping Microbiomics Digital epidemiology Infoveillance Infodemiology, feedback loop, holism

Abstract

The concept of the digital phenotype has been used to refer to digital data prognostic or diagnostic of disease conditions. Medical conditions may be inferred from the time pattern in an insomniac’s tweets, the Facebook posts of a depressed individual, or the web searches of a hypochondriac. This paper conceptualizes digital data as an extended phenotype of humans, that is as digital information produced by humans and affecting human behavior and culture. It argues that there are ethical obligations to persons affected by generalizable knowledge of a digital phenotype, not only those who are personally identifiable or involved in data generation. This claim is illustrated by considering the health-related digital phenotypes of precision medicine and digital epidemiology.
Keywords Information technologies Innovation Policy making Risk, biomedical data Big data Algorithms Discrimination Genotyping Microbiomics Digital epidemiology Infoveillance Infodemiology, feedback loop, holism

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Philosophy
Social Sciences & Humanities > History and Philosophy of Science
Language:English
Date:1 March 2019
Deposited On:20 Dec 2018 09:07
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 08:33
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:2210-5433
Additional Information:This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Philosophy & Technology. The final authenticated version is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13347-018-0319-1
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s13347-018-0319-1

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