As a firm focused on using communications to improve the health and lifestyle outcomes of people, we take a research-focused approach to driving behavioral change with an equity lens. With the emergence of Chat GPT and similar platforms, the conversation around artificial intelligence (AI) has increased in recent months. Stories have emerged about using AI for everything (not always successfully) from wedding vows to legal cases to college final exams. Tik Tok is filled with people showing off AI generated headshots and quirky illustrations from commands such as, ‘Draw me a crocodile riding a bike.’ However, the potential of AI far exceeds everyday tasks.
AI pushes solutions further faster
A United Nations report from February of this year cites that more than 700,000 people die annually from infections that are resistant to our current antibiotics. Finding and gaining approval for new antibiotics can take upwards of seven years, and by that time the infections scientists are looking to target may have evolved, rendering the new discovery ineffective.
However, recently a team from MIT and McMaster University used an AI algorithm to find an antibiotic that can fight a bacteria commonly found in hospitals, which is also the leading cause of infections in wounded soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. Scientists had narrowed down potential compounds for a new antibiotic to 7,000 – normally years’ worth of work and analysis to find the correct one. With the help of AI, a new drug has now been identified.
AI Revolutionizes Insights, Interventions, and Early Warnings for Better Health Outcomes
The emerging number of drug-resistant bacteria are a notable public health issue. Having said that, any Public Health practitioner will tell you that the fix is much more complex than just finding a new medication. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the ways economic status, race, age, profession, and a multitude of other factors affect health outcomes.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, more Public Health data was gathered than anytime in recent history. This granted timely interventions to reach more people and insights about often-overlooked communities. Within this data Public Health can still find incredible insights, but only if there is the capacity to do so. AI can help analyze data and find these insights, giving Public Health professionals the opportunity to continue to learn and fight social disparities of health.
Beyond finding patterns in order to build successful interventions, experts have floated AI as an option for early warning systems, to track the source of outbreaks in hospitals, to use non-traditional sources to identify early signs of disease.
AI still requires the human touch
For most things Public Health, the knowledge rarely matters on its own until effective messaging brings the information to communities.
Recently at the University of Zurich, a team of researchers used Chat GPT to generate tweets containing Public Health information, some real and some not, and asked research participants to look at them alongside tweets written by humans. The topics covered included climate change, vaccine safety, the COVID-19 pandemic, among other things.
Participants found the AI generated information easier to understand and more persuasive – even when the information was inaccurate. AI on its own carries positive and negative potential, but when it serves as a tool in the hands of experienced humans, possibilities are endless.
Tools like AI can have a big impact on health research. If you’re interested in learning more, please visit www.frasercommunications.com