The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday cautioned against using artificial intelligence (AI) for public healthcare. The specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health said that the data used by AI to reach decisions could be biased or misused and advised caution while using the technology.


As per the WHO, risks must be examined carefully before using AI-generated large language model tools (LLMs) like “ChatGPT, Bard, Bert and many others that imitate understanding, processing, and producing human communication ” to protect and promote human well-being, human safety, and autonomy, and preserve public health.


The health agency said that while it was enthusiastic about the potential AI holds, it has concerns over how the technology will be used.


It said, “There is concern that caution that would normally be exercised for any new technology is not being exercised consistently with LLMs.”


This includes widespread adherence to key values of transparency, inclusion, public engagement, expert supervision, and rigorous evaluation, according to WHO.


As per the WHO, the “precipitous” adoption of untested AI systems could lead to errors by healthcare workers, which could harm patients. This, it warned, could “cause harm to patients, erode trust in AI and thereby undermine (or delay) the potential long-term benefits and uses of such technologies around the world.”


Reiterating the importance of applying ethical principles and appropriate governance, the World Health Organisation specified six core principles it has identified as imperative while using AI in healthcare. These are:

protect autonomy; promote human well-being, human safety, and the public interest; ensure transparency, explainability, and intelligibility; foster responsibility and accountability; ensure inclusiveness and equity; promote AI that is responsive and sustainable.


The health agency said that while it is committed to harnessing new technologies, including AI and digital health, towards the improvement of human health, it recommends that policymakers must ensure patient safety and protection.


According to WHO, concerns that call for rigorous oversight needed for the technologies to be used in safe, effective, and ethical ways include:

路 the data used to train AI may be biased, generating misleading or inaccurate information that could pose risks to health, equity and inclusiveness;

路 LLMs generate responses that can appear authoritative and plausible to an end user; however, these responses may be completely incorrect or contain serious errors, especially for health-related responses;

路 LLMs may be trained on data for which consent may not have been previously provided for such use, and LLMs may not protect sensitive data (including health data) that a user provides to an application to generate a response;

路 LLMs can be misused to generate and disseminate highly convincing disinformation in the form of text, audio or video content that is difficult for the public to differentiate from reliable health content; and

路 while committed to harnessing new technologies, including AI and digital health to improve human health, WHO recommends that policy-makers ensure patient safety and protection while technology firms work to commercialize LLMs.


Mokokchung Times

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