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While the literature on putting a “human in the loop” in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) has grown significantly, limited attention has been paid to how human expertise ought to be combined with AI/ML judgments. This design question arises because of the ubiquity and quantity of algorithmic decisions being made today in the face of widespread public reluctance to forgo human expert judgment. To resolve this conflict, we propose that human expert judges be included via appeals processes for review of algorithmic decisions. Thus, the human intervenes only in a limited number of cases and only after an initial AI/ML judgment has been made. Based on an analogy with appellate processes in judiciary decision-making, we argue that this is, in many respects, a more efficient way to divide the labor between a human and a machine. Human reviewers can add more nuanced clinical, moral, or legal reasoning, and they can consider case-specific information that is not easily quantified and, as such, not available to the AI/ML at an initial stage. In doing so, the human can serve as a crucial error correction check on the AI/ML, while retaining much of the efficiency of AI/ML’s use in the decision-making process. In this paper, we develop these widely applicable arguments while focusing primarily on examples from the use of AI/ML in medicine, including organ allocation, fertility care, and hospital readmission.


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NPJ Digital Medicine