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Notes from the Intersection of AI and Healthcare

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Bi-Monthly Updates from Dr. Anthony Chang

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Systemic racism in healthcare: role of artificial intelligence in safeguarding equity

“If we are not careful, AI will perpetuate the bias in this world. Computers learn how to be racist, sexist, and prejudiced in a similar way that a child does. The computers learn from their creator-us.” 

Aylin Caliskan, computer scientist


The COVID-19 pandemic and the protests for racial equality rage on unrelentingly as dual forces that are forcing change. There is an underlying irony in that even in the pandemic that can be indiscriminately lethal for any human on this planet, there is a very obvious and disheartening racial disparity in morbidity and mortality with Blacks and Latinos disproportionately affected.

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The second pandemic: artificial intelligence and its role in racism and inequity

“Algorithms are still made by human beings, and those algorithms are still pegged to basic human assumptions. They’re just automated assumptions. And if you don’t fix the bias, then you are just automating the bias.” 

-Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)


We are in the midst of a second pandemic. No, not the “second wave” of this horrid coronavirus pandemic. The second pandemic is the one that is erupting after it has been in our cultures for centuries and is even more destructive than COVID-19: the pandemic of systemic racism in regions around in the world. The unrelenting protests seen around the world is the final clarion call to rid of this supremely unjust human-inflicted scourge of our societies.

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Equality & Racism

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” 

-Martin Luther King, Jr. in a letter from a Birmingham jail, April, 1963


This is one of the most tumultuous times in our lives. The COVID-19 pandemic, as appalling as it has been, has brought forth a few dividends: time with family, time for introspection, and now, time to reflect on the ongoing protests for a potential inflection point to dramatically change society for the future. It is time to heal the wounds of many who suffered from the Me Too and the Black Lives Matter movements but also all those who have been disadvantaged in other groups. Without the continual distractions of sports events and reality TV shows, we finally have the focus and appreciation for essential elements in our lives: the gallantry of healthcare and other essential workers and now the courage of the protesters that have demonstrated for the death of George Floyd at the hands of abusive police.

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SpaceX launch and the Covid-19 pandemic: complicated vs complex

“Simple and complicated contexts assume an ordered universe, where cause-and-effect relationships are perceptible, and right answers can be determined based on the facts. Complex and chaotic contexts are unordered, and there is no immediately apparent relationship between cause and effect, and the way forward is determined based on emerging patterns.“ 

-David Snowden, in Harvard Business Review’s A Leader’s Framework for Decision Making (in describing the Cynefin Framework)


This past Saturday, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread protests for the unjust death of George Floyd, the U.S. launched two astronauts into space. The vehicle was the SpaceX Falcon rocket with its Crew Dragon capsule and this event opened a new era of space travel. This journey, with Elon Musk as the privileged vanguard, is symbolic of the future with a partnership between SpaceX and NASA and implementation of AI as an essential part of its sciences. A close colleague posited about artificial intelligence: even if we launched SpaceX with an incredulous return of its booster back to Earth (including practice returns on a drone ship at sea), maybe AI is still not as good as we think if we cannot seem to make even reasonable predictions about the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Intelligence in the Covid-19 pandemic: Decision analysis and its clarity of action

“The only thing you can do that will change your future life are the decisions that you make. Otherwise you are not the wind, but the leaf in the wind.” 

-Ronald Howard, retired Stanford professor of Electrical Engineering


There is a supreme imbroglio now with the COVID-19 pandemic as it runs its apocalyptic course around the world. With very few exceptions (Taiwan, Singapore, New Zealand, South Korea, etc), it is obvious that leaders and experts have made and continue to make decisions that lack clarity and foresight. So it is timely to consider: how does one make a good or even great decision?

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The Top Ten Mistakes Healthcare Executives Can Make and How to Avoid These

“Some executives think that artificial intelligence is a sentient being, but it is simply a better way to turn data into actionable insights.“ 

-Ryan Detert, CEO, Influential


Artificial intelligence (AI), with its machine and deep learning, natural language processing, and robotic process automation tools, has become an integral part of many sectors in society and now more than ever in healthcare as well. More than 90% of healthcare executives agree that artificial intelligence improves healthcare, and healthcare AI startups raised close to $1 billion in Q4’2019 alone (Gil Press of Forbes, February 21, 2020). With a coalition of enlightened leaders within a healthcare organization, artificial intelligence enables interdisciplinary collaboration and yields valuable dividends. Here is a list of ten common mistakes that healthcare executives can make and how to avoid them:

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