AI technology has the potential to revolutionize healthcare, but it can also be hindered by racial bias. That’s according to Google and Microsoft executives who spoke at a recent event hosted by the National Institute of Health (NIH).
At the event, Google’s Chief Health Officer Karen DeSalvo and Microsoft Corporate Vice President Peter Lee discussed how AI algorithms can perpetuate existing disparities in healthcare if they are not designed with an understanding of race-based biases. They noted that these biases could limit access to care for certain populations or lead to inaccurate diagnoses.
DeSalvo said that while AI is often touted as being “objective,” it is still subject to human bias because humans design and train the algorithms. She pointed out that this means any underlying racism or sexism present in society will likely be reflected in AI models unless steps are taken to address them.
Lee echoed DeSalvo’s sentiments, noting that there have been numerous examples of AI systems making decisions based on biased data sets or flawed assumptions about people from different backgrounds. He cited facial recognition software as one example where errors were more common when identifying people with darker skin tones than those with lighter skin tones.
The two executives agreed that addressing racial bias in health tech requires collaboration between developers, researchers, clinicians and patients from diverse backgrounds—all working together towards a shared goal of creating equitable solutions for everyone involved in healthcare delivery.
To achieve this goal, both companies have implemented initiatives aimed at increasing diversity within their own organizations as well as promoting greater inclusion among external partners such as universities and research institutions. For instance, Google recently announced its new Black Googlers Network which seeks to create opportunities for Black employees within the company while also providing mentorship programs for students interested in pursuing careers related to technology and medicine. Similarly, Microsoft launched its Inclusive Hiring program which focuses on recruiting underrepresented groups into technical roles across all levels of experience within the organization .
Additionally , both companies have invested heavily into research projects focused on developing ethical frameworks around machine learning applications used in healthcare settings . This includes exploring ways to reduce algorithmic bias through better data collection practices , improved transparency regarding decision-making processes , and increased accountability measures . These efforts aim not only at ensuring fairness but also accuracy when using automated technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) .
Ultimately , DeSalvo believes we must take a holistic approach when tackling issues related to racial inequity —one which takes into account social determinants of health along with technological advancements —in order ensure everyone has access quality care regardless of race or ethnicity . As she put it : “We need our technology investments [to] reflect our values so we don’t just replicate what already exists .” By taking proactive steps now towards eliminating biases embedded within current systems , we can help pave way for future generations benefit from advances made possible through AI technologies without fear discrimination due their background or identity .