We spoke to Oliver Smith, Strategy Director & Head of Ethics
at Alpha Health, Telefónica Innovación Alpha ahead of his presentation at Intelligent Health (9-10 September 2020, Online), the world's largest online summit dedicated to AI in medicine.
Technology is currently great at helping to solve the access problem, but often by providing generic, one-size-fits-all care. AI promises to change that, so we can have the best of both worlds, at least for more common health problems.
That we won't pay enough attention to building trust in AI health applications, such that they never reaches their potential because people will, rightly, not want to share the highly personal health data that building AI health applications requires.
In 5 years we should see AI deliver digital therapies that are personalised, providing you with the right care at the right time. In 10 years I think we will see really effective prevention through the prediction of problems, although I think that this will require some advances in privacy preserving technology - to make it acceptable to share and link wide ranges of data sets in a health context. In 20 years time we might start to see that augmentation of humans becomes more mainstream. This will probably be thanks to a mixing of AI, wearable technology, and bio-engineering. Whatever its form, it has massive ethical implications, and we should start to think about these now!
I would like it to place greater emphasis on the caring aspect of healthcare, not just the more technical aspects. I realise that 'bedside manner' is somewhat of a cliche, but we should not underestimate the reassurance that comes from a human listening to, and understanding the problems that we face.
Whilst there are will undoubtedly be some health professionals that want to go deep, and become coder clinicians, I don't think that this should be the norm. Instead, I think it will be really important that health professionals know enough to ask the right questions about AI in healthcare. In the same way that a health professional will question the potential risks of prescribing multiple pharmaceuticals, they will question the quality of training data and what an algorithm is optimising for.
Which 2 people do you admire most in the world of AI in terms of their work?
Not sure I can choose my co-presenter, but I'm going to! Gemma Galdon, founder of Eticas Research & Consulting is amazing; a leading figure in working out how to put AI ethics into practice. I also really admire Gary Marcus at NYU for the way he is challenging the AI community to move beyond deep learning approaches, and to complement them with approaches that are more grounded in how humans actually learn.
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