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Powered by 'big health data' and enormous gains in computing power, artificial intelligence and related technologies are already changing the healthcare landscape. Harnessing the potential of these technologies will necessitate partnerships between health institutions and commercial companies, particularly as it relates to sharing health data. The need for commercial companies to be trustworthy users of data has been argued to be critical to the success of this endeavour. I argue that this approach is mistaken. Our interactions with commercial companies need not, and should not, be based on trust. Rather, they should be based on confidence. I begin by elucidating the differences between trust, reliability, and confidence, and argue that trust is not the appropriate attitude to adopt when it comes to sharing data with commercial companies. I argue that what we really should want is confidence in a system of data sharing. I then provide an outline of what a confidence-worthy system of data sharing with commercial companies might look like, and conclude with some remarks about the role of trust within this system.

Original publication




Journal article


J Med Ethics

Publication Date



confidentiality/privacy, databases- genetic, ethics, ethics- research, information technology