Towards an AI-Ready Society – with a glimpse into healthcare AI

On October 2nd in Tokyo, Adobe and Intel hosted the event “Towards an AI-Ready Society for improving our lives” with the patronage of the US Embassy in Japan. Japan was one of the first countries developing an AI strategy, and creating detailed guidance on “Social principles of Human-centric AI”, “AI R&D Principles” and “AI Utilization Principles”. Japan has also brought AI to the center stage of the G20 Summit last June.

It was within this setting that government officials, scholars and industry discussed the latest developments of AI in Japan. There was strong alignment between Japan’s three guiding principles for AI: “Respect for humans (dignity)”, “Diversity and Inclusion” and “Sustainability” and Intel’s vision for an Innovative, Trusted and Inclusive AI.

  • Innovative — meaning that the future of AI requires constant innovation;
  • Trusted — meaning that the future of AI requires commitments to privacy, security, transparency and explainability;
  • Inclusive – meaning that the future of AI requires using ethical design and addressing social impact.

One of the topics discussed was AI and healthcare as Japan’s ageing population can benefit the most from AI and automation. AI can and is already being used in multiple health related activities. For example, in clinical settings, predictive analytics allows to detect problems before they happen, improves patient care and reduces hospital bed days; in research, to accelerate drug discovery and improve therapies to support personalised medicine; and in medical and non-medical devices and sensors, for example for remote patient monitoring and prevention and clinical decision support.

Artificial Intelligence in healthcare requires patient’s data to work. In this context, concerns with privacy and data protection are naturally present and will tend to increase as AI develops. Promoting the secure, privacy preserving, access to health data within and across nations becomes an imperative, as trust is a pre requisite for AI in healthcare to thrive.

In a previous blog we highlighted the Act on the Secondary Use of Health and Social Data from Finland which recognizes that, as the availability of data increases, so does the potential to provide better services and more effective therapies and treatments. The Act leverages the exceptionally comprehensive and high-quality data resources in the social welfare and healthcare sector by facilitating their better use while respecting the privacy of individuals.

I think a key question policymakers across the world must address is: How to Maximise the value of health data without compromising patient’s privacy?
Achieving total digitization of health information is one part of the answer. The data needs to be findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable. The other part of the answer is about promoting policies and technologies for the secure, privacy preserving access to health data; and policies to establish interoperable health data spaces.
Finally, if the data is accessible to AI then it should also be accessible to the individual, the patient. It is widely accepted that a patient centric approach to healthcare empowers people to have a more active role in their own health.

Tokyo was the fifth stop of Intel’s AI Policy World Tour (see what happened in Berlin , Ottawa, Beijing and Washington DC, ) an initiative from Intel which aims at stimulating AI policy discussions across several regions of the world.