From artificial intelligence to the ethics of war…the cognitive system of the global discourse of medical ethics and the religious and cultural dimensions

Written By Mark

The Qatari capital recently witnessed (the third to the sixth of June this year) a very important event, represented by hosting the Center for Studies of Islamic Legislation and Ethics at Hamad Bin Khalifa University, in cooperation with the World Innovation Summit in Healthcare (WISH), “The Global Medical and Bioethics Conference The seventeenth”, which is the first time that this conference has been hosted in the Arab and Islamic world and the Middle East region.

The International Conference on Medical and Bioethics, which has been held periodically every two years for more than 3 decades, is the most important and prominent event in this field in the world. In this forum, hundreds of researchers and scientists in the fields of ethics, philosophy, social sciences, medical and life sciences meet with specialists, workers and policy makers in the health care and scientific research sectors, to discuss the most important issues that concern specialists and the general public alike.

The research presented at the conference, which is accepted after scientific arbitration, and the accompanying discussions constitute the cornerstone of the knowledge system in this field, which determines the relationship between the scientific potential produced by successive developments in the medical and biological sciences and the moral judgment regarding what can be accepted or rejected from these developments.

Over the past three decades, the countries of the European continent and the United States of America had the greatest share of hosting the conference, and then formulating a system of knowledge based on Western philosophical methods of thinking and reasoning, in which religion, if it is addressed at all, is a subject of research and not a source of knowledge for determining right and wrong. . Also, the participation of researchers coming from outside Western countries has always been very weak for various reasons, and if the researcher is able to overcome this, he will be unable to participate in the end due to the difficulty of obtaining an entry visa to the country hosting the conference.

With successive editions of the conference, a “global discourse” came to dominate, formulated in a Western context compatible with the traditions and customs prevailing in these societies, in which the religious and cultural dimensions of other peoples around the world were almost not considered. For example, the principle of autonomy (autonomy) was adopted among the four main principles of the field of medical and bioethics, and this principle was often translated within the framework of maximizing individual freedoms and their role in determining the benefit and harm when a person deals with his body and marginalizing the role of the family, relatives and society, as well as Marginalizing the religious perception of belief in the existence of a God who is the Creator of this body and has the highest authority in determining the interests and harms related to the human body.

Therefore, it has become morally acceptable within this “global discourse” for a single individual, without the need for a partner of the opposite sex and outside of marriage, to contract to purchase a man’s sperm or a woman’s egg, or a fertilized sperm, or a rented uterus, or all of that together to produce offspring. Attributed to him. Given that these positions are considered part of the “global discourse” of medical ethics, those who disagree with this opinion, whether states or institutions, are in the crosshairs of being accused of not respecting human rights principles that fall within the human moral common ground.

What’s new in the Doha version

Published studies and statistics indicate that 8 out of 10 people have a religious affiliation, including patients, doctors, and health care workers. Therefore, it is not possible to talk about a “global discourse” that addresses vital issues affecting the different peoples of the world without addressing the values, beliefs and cultures of perhaps more than 80% of them. The 17th edition of the conference, held in Doha, was an important attempt to redress this imbalance. It was held under the title “Religion, Culture, and the Global Discourse of Medical and Bioethics.” For the first time in the history of the conference, full sessions were held in Arabic so that Sharia scholars and researchers in Islamic sciences could present their views in their mother tongue, with English translation to communicate with the conference audience.

In addition to individual researchers, important institutions participated in the field of medical and bioethics in Islam, such as the Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences in Kuwait and the International Islamic Jurisprudence Academy in Jeddah. The conference was an important bridge of communication between those with these religious perceptions, researchers from various parts of the world, and important international institutions that participated in the conference, such as the World Health Organization, UNESCO, and the World Medical Association.

In line with these unprecedented developments in the history of the conference, the first African president, from Ghana, was chosen for the International Association of Bioethics, and the country of South Africa was chosen to host the 18th edition of the conference in 2026, which will be the first time for the conference on the continent. Africa. The founding session was also held to establish the International Islamic Bioethics Association, to be a comprehensive umbrella for researchers from different parts of the world.

We hope that these successive developments constitute the inauguration of a new era in which the discourse of medical and bioethics is truly global, so that different peoples, religions and cultures have an effective role in formulating this discourse and building its knowledge system, instead of the current knowledge system based on Western pillars only.

Artificial intelligence and the ethics of war

In terms of numbers, the Doha edition recorded the attendance of more than 1,100 people, representing more than 75 countries from the five continents of the world, and more than 500 speakers who participated in more than 140 sessions and gave more than 800 lectures. At the level of topics, a huge number of issues of concern to the people of the East and the West were discussed, starting with genetic examinations for those approaching marriage and for sperm before and after implantation in the womb, and new gene editing techniques to carry out unprecedented genetic modifications, through to the transplantation of organs taken from humans or from animals that have been Genetically modified to be more suitable for survival in the human body, ending with how the end of human life is determined and what is called “brain death”. There are two main topics that were repeatedly addressed during the conference: artificial intelligence and the ethics of war.

Successive technical developments in artificial intelligence have found their way into the healthcare sector, and we are faced with a new dilemma represented by an intelligent machine mediating between the doctor and the patient that can exceed the doctor’s ability to diagnose disease, prescribe medication, and even perform precise surgical operations.

The majority of researchers have agreed that medical responsibility should always be assigned to humans and not to machines. But the person responsible in the age of artificial intelligence will not necessarily be the doctor alone. Rather, the responsibility may be shared by the collector of huge data used to train the smart machine, the developer of smart programs, or the person who granted the necessary licenses, and other possibilities. However, it was stressed that it is necessary to pay attention to the vast differences that currently exist between different regions of the world in the field of digital technology, or what is known as the digital divide, as these differences lead to problems in good care when smart machines are trained on huge data coming from the rich, connected world. With modern technology, then applying it to the poor world’s population, even though they are not represented in the databases used.

As for the ethics of war and its impact on the field of medical and bioethics, it received a great deal of attention from the audience, given the miserable state in which our world is experiencing today. Targeting medical institutions, their workers, and their patients, and Gaza currently represents a glaring example in this regard, has become a daily practice that some have continued despite the agreement to prohibit and criminalize these practices in international conventions.

In the context of the great restriction on writing on this topic in a number of scientific journals and on student demonstrations in many universities, the freedom to talk about these issues during the conference activities was appreciated by the attendees and participants. The participating research confirmed that vulnerable groups of patients, the elderly, children, and medical personnel cannot be targets in wars, regardless of their geographic, ethnic, and religious affiliations, and that attention to the relationship between the ethics of war and the field of medical and bioethics needs more theorizing and scientific writing.