The NHS AI Lab has launched an initiative to explore the ethics of using the technology in the health service.
Dr Indra Joshi, director of AI at NHSX, and Brhmie Balaram, its head of AI research and ethics, said the AI Ethics Initiative will involve research and trials of practical interventions to strengthen existing efforts to evaluate and regulate relevant technologies.
The NHS AI Lab, which is within NHSX, will work with academia, the third sector and other public bodies on various challenges.
“Our focus will be on how to counter the inequalities that may arise from the ways that AI technologies are developed and deployed in health and care,” they said. “We believe these inequalities aren’t inevitable, and that if they are proactively addressed we can realise the potential of AI for all users of health and care services.”
It is beginning with three projects, one of which covers a research call on algorithmic bias, in particular in regard to any racialised impact of algorithms in health and care. This will be led by the National Institute for Health and Research and includes two categories: understanding and enabling opportunities to use AI in addressing health inequalities; and optimising datasets and improving AI development, testing and deployment.
The second project is on facilitating early stage exploration of algorithmic risks, picking up on research by the Ada Lovelace Institute on algorithmic impact assessments (AIAs). The NHS AI Lab will work with the institute on designing and trialling AIAs.
Third is a project to empower healthcare professionals to make the most of AI, picking up on a Health Education England (HEE) programme to explore the use of the technology in education and training. The project will be focused on gaining a better understanding of levels of trust and engagement with AI solutions in health and care, and what this in turn means for AI enabled patient care.
Joshi and Balaram said the NHS AI Lab will seek to involve the public in the development and deployment of AI wherever possible, especially people from marginalised communities.
They are planning a launch event for the initiative on 10 March.
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