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Alex John London - Carnegie Mellon University. Pittsburgh, PA, US

Alex John London

Professor | Carnegie Mellon University


Alex John London’s work focuses on ethical and policy issues surrounding novel technologies in medicine.


Alex John London is the Clara L. West Professor of Ethics and Philosophy and Director of the Center for Ethics and Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. An elected Fellow of the Hastings Center, Professor London’s work focuses on ethical and policy issues surrounding the development and deployment of novel technologies in medicine, biotechnology and artificial intelligence, on methodological issues in theoretical and practical ethics, and on cross-national issues of justice and fairness. Professor London’s work in ethics and AI focuses on structural obstacles to safe and effective technologies and mechanisms for ensuring social trust, accountability and non-domination. This includes work on the nature of bias in algorithms and the disconnect between technical uses of this concept and ethical benchmarks. He has critiqued requirements of explainability and interpretability in the medical context and argued instead that accountability and freedom from arbitrary interference are better served by institutions and process for validating claims about what AI systems can do, clarifying the contexts under which those claims hold and when they do not. London was a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Group on Ethics and Governance of AI whose report “Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence for Health” was published in 2021.

Areas of Expertise (3)

AI Ethics


Responsible AI

Media Appearances (5)

Higher Dose of Ivermectin, and for Longer, Still No Help Against COVID

Medpage Today  online


In an accompanying editorialopens in a new tab or window, Alex John London, PhD, of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and Christopher Seymour, MD, of the University of Pittsburgh, highlighted that despite all the evidence against it thus far, ivermectin studies continued, perhaps at the expense of other more fruitful endeavors.

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ChatGPT used by mental health tech app in AI experiment with users

NBC News  online


“People are often shocked to learn that there aren’t actual laws specifically governing research with humans in the U.S.,” Alex John London, director of the Center for Ethics and Policy at Carnegie Mellon University and the author of a book on research ethics, said in an email.

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Can an algorithm prevent suicide?

Denver Post  online


“It is a critical test for these big-data systems,” said Alex John London, the director of the Center for Ethics and Policy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. “If these things have a high rate of false positives, for instance, that marks a lot of people at high risk who are not — and the stigma associated with that could be harmful indeed downstream. We need to be sure these risk flags lead to people getting better or more help, not somehow being punished.”

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Medical ethics in pandemic times

Axios  online


"It’s important that we not say the president got access to a beneficial experimental intervention because we don’t know if it is beneficial or if there are adverse events associated with it," says Alex John London, director of the Center for Ethics and Policy at Carnegie Mellon University.

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Ethicist: Hydroxychloroquine hype could bungle the science

Futurity  online


Elements of the response to COVID-19 remind ethicist Alex John London of errors in the response to the Ebola outbreak in 2014-15. For example, hydroxychloroquine.

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Alex John London Publication Alex John London Publication




RI Seminar: Alex John London : From Automation to Autonomy and the Ubiquity of Moral Decision Making



Industry Expertise (2)



Education (3)

University of Virginia: Ph.D., Philosophy

University of Virginia: M.A., Philosophy

Bard College: B.A., Philosophy and Literature

Affiliations (1)

  • World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Group on Ethics and Governance of AI

Articles (5)

Varieties of community uncertainty and clinical equipoise

Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal

2023 The judgments of conscientious and informed experts play a central role in two elements of clinical equipoise. The first, and most widely discussed, element involves ensuring that no participant in a randomized trial is allocated to a level of treatment that everyone agrees is substandard. The second, and less often discussed, element involves ensuring that trials are likely to generate social value by producing the information necessary to resolve a clinically meaningful uncertainty or disagreement about the relative merits of a set of interventions.

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The place of philosophy in bioethics today

The American Journal of Bioethics

2022 In some views, philosophy’s glory days in bioethics are over. While philosophers were especially important in the early days of the field, so the argument goes, the majority of the work in bioethics today involves the “simple” application of existing philosophical principles or concepts, as well as empirical work in bioethics. Here, we address this view head on and ask: What is the role of philosophy in bioethics today?

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The Ethics of Research on Treatment Discontinuation

NEJM Evidence

2022 Discussions of the ethics of research with human participants frequently focus on early-phase studies that investigate the clinical properties of novel interventions, randomized controlled trials that investigate the relative diagnostic, prophylactic, or therapeutic merits of promising new interventions, or pragmatic research on existing practices. There has also been significant discussion of ethical issues in trials that employ a “washout period,” in which participants discontinue one treatment before being exposed to another.

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Artificial intelligence in medicine: Overcoming or recapitulating structural challenges to improving patient care?

Cell Reports Medicine

2022 There is considerable enthusiasm about the prospect that artificial intelligence (AI) will help to improve the safety and efficacy of health services and the efficiency of health systems. To realize this potential, however, AI systems will have to overcome structural problems in the culture and practice of medicine and the organization of health systems that impact the data from which AI models are built, the environments into which they will be deployed, and the practices and incentives that structure their development. This perspective elaborates on some of these structural challenges and provides recommendations to address potential shortcomings.

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The Ethics of Clinical Research: managing persistent uncertainty


2023 In the face of novel pathogens, incomplete knowledge, and disagreement about the merits of medical treatments, translating the duty to care into concrete benefits for patients depends on our ability to quickly act on the duty to learn. 1 Learning is a dynamic process whose goal, in medical research, is to generate the evidence needed to reduce uncertainty and shift care toward safer, more effective, and efficient practice.

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