Some experts are seriously wary of AI in healthcare

A Harvard Law School professor is warning that AI may be hazardous to the health of U.S. healthcare.

“I think of machine learning kind of as asbestos,” Jonathan Zittrain, JD, MPA, said in a presentation at Harvard Medical School Tuesday. “It turns out that it’s all over the place, even though at no point did you explicitly install it, and it has possibly some latent bad effects that you might regret later, after it’s already too hard to get it all out.”

According to coverage of the event by Stat News, Zittrain was in good company. Speakers raised red flags over nettlesome issues—ethical, political and scientific—that have been barely addressed to date.

One expert noted that data from wearables cannot be fully anonymized. Another said bias is baked into every algorithm.

“Using AI has the potential to advance medical insights through the collection and analysis of large volumes and types of health data,” said Kadija Ferryman, a fellow at the Data & Society Research Institute in New York. “However, we must keep our focus on the potential for these technologies to exacerbate and extend unfair outcomes.”

Read the rest of Stat’s coverage: