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Does “AI” stand for augmenting inequality in the era of covid-19 healthcare?

Academic Journal article by David Leslie, Anjali Mazumder, Aidan Peppin, Maria K Wolters, Alexa Hagerty

Does “AI” stand for augmenting inequality in the era of covid-19 healthcare? BMJ 2021;372:n304. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n304

Key Messages:

  • The impact of covid-19 has fallen disproportionately on disadvantaged and vulnerable communities, and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to combat the pandemic risks compounding these inequities
  • AI systems can introduce or reflect bias and discrimination in three ways: in patterns of health discrimination that become entrenched in datasets, in data representativeness, and in human choices made during the design, development, and deployment of these systems
  • The use of AI threatens to exacerbate the disparate effect of covid-19 on marginalised, under-represented, and vulnerable groups, particularly black, Asian, and other minoritised ethnic people, older populations, and those of lower socioeconomic status
  • To mitigate the compounding effects of AI on inequalities associated with covid-19, decision makers, technology developers, and health officials must account for the potential biases and inequities at all stages of the AI process

This paper is from a collection of articles proposed by the WHO Department of Digital Health and Innovation and commissioned by The BMJ. The BMJ retained full editorial control over external peer review, editing, and publication of these articles. Open access fees were funded by WHO.

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