WHO releases AI ethics and governance guidance for large multi-modal models

19 January, 2024

#AI and #LMMs could transform the availability and use of reliable healthcare information for all, but there are risks. Interesting news release from WHO:

WHO releases AI ethics and governance guidance for large multi-modal models

18 January 2024 News release

Read online: https://www.who.int/news/item/18-01-2024-who-releases-ai-ethics-and-gove...

The World Health Organization (WHO) is releasing new guidance on the ethics and governance of large multi-modal models (LMMs) – a type of fast growing generative artificial intelligence (AI) technology with applications across health care.

The guidance outlines over 40 recommendations for consideration by governments, technology companies, and health care providers to ensure the appropriate use of LMMs to promote and protect the health of populations.

LMMs can accept one or more type of data inputs, such as text, videos, and images, and generate diverse outputs not limited to the type of data inputted. LMMs are unique in their mimicry of human communication and ability to carry out tasks they were not explicitly programmed to perform. LMMs have been adopted faster than any consumer application in history, with several platforms – such as ChatGPT, Bard and Bert – entering the public consciousness in 2023.

“Generative AI technologies have the potential to improve health care but only if those who develop, regulate, and use these technologies identify and fully account for the associated risks,” said Dr Jeremy Farrar, WHO Chief Scientist. “We need transparent information and policies to manage the design, development, and use of LMMs to achieve better health outcomes and overcome persisting health inequities.”

Potential benefits and risks

The new WHO guidance outlines five broad applications of LMMs for health:

1. Diagnosis and clinical care, such as responding to patients’ written queries;

2. Patient-guided use, such as for investigating symptoms and treatment;

3. Clerical and administrative tasks, such as documenting and summarizing patient visits within electronic health records;

4. Medical and nursing education, including providing trainees with simulated patient encounters, and;

5. Scientific research and drug development, including to identify new compounds.

While LMMs are starting to be used for specific health-related purposes, there are also documented risks of producing false, inaccurate, biased, or incomplete statements, which could harm people using such information in making health decisions. Furthermore, LMMs may be trained on data that are of poor quality or biased, whether by race, ethnicity, ancestry, sex, gender identity, or age...

Key recommendations

The new WHO guidance includes recommendations for governments, who have the primary responsibility to set standards for the development and deployment of LMMs, and their integration and use for public health and medical purposes. For example, governments should:

Invest in or provide not-for-profit or public infrastructure, including computing power and public data sets, accessible to developers in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, that requires users to adhere to ethical principles and values in exchange for access....

The guidance also includes the following key recommendations for developers of LMMs...

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of HIFA (Healthcare Information For All), a global health community that brings all stakeholders together around the shared goal of universal access to reliable healthcare information. HIFA has 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting in four languages and representing all parts of the global evidence ecosystem. HIFA is administered by Global Healthcare Information Network, a UK-based nonprofit in official relations with the World Health Organization. Email: neil@hifa.org