WHO launches Sara, an artificial intelligence avatar on health issues technology

According to a survey by the Society of Family and Community Medicine (semFYC), more than half of the population seeks advice on health-related topics on the Internet to find explanations for symptoms, discomforts, diagnoses, medications, vaccines, treatments, and lifestyle, among other things. , Technology companies that already have artificial intelligence medical assistants want to tap into this vein. But these services, which are more focused on professionals, leave information in the hands of free resources, about which semFYC member María del Campo highlights the importance of “having mechanisms to search for sophisticated medical information”. The World Health Organization (WHO) has tried to do its part with Sara, an artificial intelligence health chat that it has just launched, albeit with a number of shortcomings, according to early experiences.

short form of sara Smart AI resource assistant for health (Intelligent AI Resource Assistant for Health) and this is an incarnation that was already tested under another name (Florence) during the pandemic, but it is re-emerging with a new language and technology model And for now, it’s in eight languages, including Spanish.

Sarah answers very common questions with minimal empathy and always recommends seeing a doctor. It is believed to be capable of providing information on key health topics, but in these earlier phase tests, it has failed to provide links to more specific medical information and has limited itself to very general recommendations or a basic list. Offer has been limited. Symptoms associated with some diseases. It also can’t display images.

But, despite the shortcomings in this launch, WHO does not want to abandon the train of artificial intelligence in its respective field or leave it to companies with economic and commercial interests. “The future of health is digital and harnessing the power of digital technologies for health is a priority for countries,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a note.

While acknowledging the shortcomings of the current system, he says, “Sarah gives us an insight into how artificial intelligence can be used in the future to improve access to health information in a more interactive way.” In this sense, the WHO director “has asked for help from the research community to explore how this technology can reduce inequalities and help people access the latest and reliable health information.” Like any artificial intelligence system, Sarah longs to grow with human interaction.

Del Campo highlighted during Self-Care Week two years ago that the high frequency of searches for health topics “indicates that there is a concern that we should respond to,” but he also noted the need to “stay with the patient.” Also warned about the importance. Information Screening.

Nor does WHO avoid the difficulties of these types of tools to ensure equal access, privacy, security, accuracy, absence of bias and data security.

WHO says, “Developers, policy makers and healthcare providers should consider these ethical and human rights issues when developing and implementing AI to ensure that all people can benefit from it.”

The global organization’s warning refers to the attack by big technology companies on consultations to bring their conversational machines into the field of primary care, but they always say, as a supporting tool, co-pilot for the doctor and a possible solution. In form of. The decline of care.. According to the National Institute of Statistics, 81.4% of women and 72.3% of men visit these services at least once a year.

IBM has Watson Health, a conversational robot that is available at any time, which collects basic information and alerts of possible changes that require additional attention.

In the commercial sector, Microsoft develops Azure Health Bot, a conversational system based on language models trained to understand medical information, classification protocols and clinical terminology.

Google has also entered this market with a family of models integrated into MedLM. Greg Corrado, Head of Artificial Intelligence for Health at a multinational company, highlights radiographic image analysis tools and AMIE, an application “optimized for clinical reasoning and interaction that simulates the interaction between patient and caregiver Is.”

The avatar launched by WHO is created by Soul Machines with support from Rooftop and, although it warns that it cannot access images, it does need access to the microphone and camera “to improve the interaction experience”. Is. The organization ensures that “all data collected is anonymized and complies with current privacy practices and regulations.”

WHO cautions that “the answers may not always be accurate because they are based on patterns and probabilities in the available data.” In this sense, the organization warns that it is not responsible for any conversation content generated by generative AI nor does it “represent or understand the views or beliefs of WHO.” The final warning to the user is conclusive: “You understand and acknowledge that you should not rely on the responses generated as the sole source of true or factual information, nor as a substitute for professional advice.”

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