The AI doctor will see you now: Assessing the framing of AI in news coverage

Mercedes Bunz*, Marco Braghieri

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


One of the sectors for which Artificial Intelligence applications have been considered as exceptionally promising is the healthcare sector. As a public-facing sector, the introduction of AI applications has been subject to extended news coverage. This article conducts a quantitative and qualitative data analysis of English news media articles covering AI systems that allow the automation of tasks that so far needed to be done by a medical expert such as a doctor or a nurse thereby redistributing their agency. We investigated in this article one particular framing of AI systems and their agency: the framing that positions AI systems as (1a) replacing and (1b) outperforming the human medical expert, and in which (2) AI systems are personified and/or addressed as a person. The analysis of our data set consisting of 365 articles written between the years 1980 and 2019 will show that there is a tendency to present AI systems as outperforming human expertise. These findings are important given the central role of news coverage in explaining AI and given the fact that the popular frame of ‘outperforming’ might place AI systems above critique and concern including the Hippocratic oath. Our data also showed that the addressing of an AI system as a person is a trend that has been advanced only recently and is a new development in the public discourse about AI.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAI and Society
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2021


  • Agency
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Framing
  • Healthcare
  • Media coverage
  • Medicine


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