Obama-chaired council calls for international cooperation on use of AI in healthcare

White House

A council chaired by President Obama has called for countries to cooperate to investigate the potential uses of artificial intelligence in healthcare. Members of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) made the comments in a report about the future of AI, which singled out healthcare as an area ripe for advances.

NSTC discusses the implications for AI on a range of industries and society in general in the 48-page report. The potential for AI to improve healthcare recurs throughout the document. While the U.S. wants to lead these advances, NSTC also thinks there is value in collaborating with other countries. In healthcare and other sectors, NSTC thinks “international engagement is necessary to fully explore the applications of AI.”

With this in mind, NSTC is calling for the U.S. to develop a government-wide strategy for international engagement as it relates to AI. And the council wants to see the government create a list of AI topics that the international community needs to cooperate on and monitor. The White House has already started forming these ties through bilateral discussions with Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom and other countries, but NSTC is advocating for further cooperation, including on R&D.

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“The U.S. government should deepen its engagement with key international stakeholders, including foreign governments, international organizations, industry, academia and others, to exchange information and facilitate collaboration on AI R&D,” NSCT wrote in the report.

If such collaborations are established, their scope will likely extend far beyond health. But the report makes it clear NSTC sees the industry as one of the sectors best positioned to benefit from the rise of AI.

“Given the current transition to electronic health records, predictive analysis of health data may play a key role across many health domains like precision medicine and cancer research,” NSTC wrote.

In parallel to attempts to realize the potential of AI through international cooperation, NSTC also wants the government to step up its activities. One proposal calls for the creation of high-risk AI research units at federal agencies. These units would take their inspiration from DARPA, the wing of the military that describes itself as going after “opportunities for transformational change rather than incremental advances.”

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