We have accepted the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in complex processes — from health care to our daily use of social media — often without critical investigation, until it is too late. The use of AI is inescapable in our modern society, and it may perpetuate discrimination without its users being aware of any prejudice. When health-care providers rely on biased technology, there are real and harmful impacts.
This became clear recently when a study showed that pulse oximeters — which measure the amount of oxygen in the blood and have been an essential tool for clinical management of COVID-19 — are less accurate on people with darker skin than lighter skin. The findings resulted in a sweeping racial bias review now underway, in an attempt to create international standards for testing medical devices.