Artificial intelligence (AI), once little-known outside of academic circles and science fiction films, has become a household phrase. That trend will continue to expand as the public becomes more exposed to AI technology in everyday products, ranging from their cars and home appliances to wearable devices capable of tracking the metrics of their everyday routines. Perhaps no facet of AI has sparked observers’ imaginations more than machine learning (ML), which is precisely as it sounds: the ability of computer programs to “automatically improve with experience.” Machine learning lies at the heart of the kind of independent and superhuman computer power most people dream of when they consider AI.
While the public’s imagination is free to run wild with the promises of ML—creating an appetite that will no doubt be met with an equal and opposite response from businesses around the world—traditional policy and law-making bodies will be left with the task of trying to adapt existing legal and regulatory frameworks to it. Therefore it bears consideration how existing products liability norms might apply to AI/ML-based products, if at all, and what sort of uncertainties may arise for product manufacturers, distributors, and sellers. No enterprise better illustrates the careful balance between the endless potential of AI against the unique risks of products liability concerns than the medical device industry. This article discusses the uses and unique benefits of AI in the medical device context, while also exploring the developing products liability risks.