Facilitators and barriers to the use of agent-based social simulation in organ donation
- Contact person:
- Fabian Lorig
- Knut and Alice Wallenberg foundation
- Responsible at MaU:
- Fabian Lorig
- External project members:
- Heidi Howard - Lunds universitet
- Time frame:
- 01 February 2023 - 31 January 2024
- Research subject:
In Sweden in 2021, 33 people died on the waiting list before receiving a life-saving organ; Europe-wide this corresponds to 10 deaths each day. But even when organs do reach their recipient, as they did 631 times in Sweden in 2021, there may still be issues of poor organ match or organs being allocated to potentially less needy recipients.
Earlier in 2022, the Council of Europe adopted a recommendation to optimize donation programs in the case of circulatory death. Yet, even though experts have been discussing policies to optimize organ donations for decades, there are still important gaps in making the donation system fair and efficient while also adhering to ethical, legal, and social frameworks. Introducing new or adapting existing donation policies is challenging and associated with ethical, legal, and social issues. For instance, the health of potential organ recipients could be jeopardized in case of unfavorable or inefficient policies. Hence, it is important to thoroughly analyze the potential effects of different policies prior to their implementation.
An approach that has been proven suitable for this purpose are policy simulations, where an artificial population is used to generate synthetic (simulated) data. Simulations allow us to safely and effectively conduct in silico experiments and to investigate the potential effects of policies without the risk of harming individuals. A type of simulation that is particularly well-suited for investigating the effects of policies are Agent-based Social Simulations (ABSS). ABSS consist of a population of intelligent agents that replicate the real-world’s population in terms of socio- demographic and other properties and that imitate human behavior using Artificial Intelligence.
The goal of this project is to analyze the ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI) as well as the technical requirements, challenges, and consequences of the use of ABSS as a tool to inform organ donation policy making. By generating synthetic data, ABSS enable an innovative data-driven approach to facilitate organ donation policy making. It provides policy makers with a sandpit where the consequences of different scenarios and policies can be evaluated in a safe environment without the risk of harming individuals. This project serves as a pre-study to identify facilitators, barriers, and requirements for the development of an ABSS model of organ donation policies.
This is a joint research project with Heidi Howard from the Department of Medical Ethics at Lund University.
The project is part of an initiative to establish multi-disciplinary collaborations between the WASP-HS (The Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program – Humanities and Society) and DDLS (Data-Driven Life Science) research programs.