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Last year, when the Food and Drug Administration approved an Apple Watch feature that notified users if they had an irregular heart rhythm, the information tech industry hailed it as a watershed moment in consumer-focused health care. Cardiologists, on the other hand, warned that the app could lead to privacy violations, unwarranted worrying and wasteful or even dangerous medical care.

It might have been good to have an authoritative assessment of the new technology’s pros and cons. But in the United States, at least, that no longer happens. 

In Britain, France and the European Union, government agencies examine the ethical, social and economic impact of artificial intelligence and other big new technologies used in health care and elsewhere. But while a number of U.S. academic centers study these issues, federal policymaking is practically nil.

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