Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner told MPs that we need “much much tougher regulatory frameworks to unlock that potential in the right way“ when using artificial intelligence in healthcare and the NHS, in Parliament yesterday. Speaking in a debate on artificial intelligence, he warned that based on previous behaviour, tech giants can’t be trusted to use data about us responsibly.

He told MPs “Almost every day, as MP for Cambridge, I am told of new innovations and developments that show that we are on the cusp of a technological revolution across a range of sectors. We are clearly developing technologies capable of revolutionising the way we work and transforming medicine and healthcare. But huge change, particularly through adoption of new technology, can be difficult to communicate to the public, and if we do not make sure that we explain carefully the real benefits of such technologies we easily risk a backlash.“

Daniel Zeichner MP mentioned the Cambridge Independent who “asked me what my summer reading was – I told them it was Professor Shoshana Zuboff‘s astonishing work, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. And as she says, the key question is not just who knows, but who decides, and who decides who decides. Until we are allowed to see it and own the knowledge about us , I would say that we can have no confidence that the great potential gains that come with AI will be used for the benefit of patients rather than those who seek to profit from that knowledge. The NHS is a huge repository of knowledge, the best in the world – we have a great opportunity to use it for the good not just of our patients, our citizens, but for the wider world – but we need much much tougher regulatory frameworks to unlock that potential in the right way. So far, I’m afraid, it has been so much tinkering.“

Mr Zeichner comments: “The NHS is a brilliant goldmine of data for research and innovation, but we cannot afford to fall into previous traps of poor security and regulation, and downgrade public trust in use of their data. We have to put patients before profit, and have much tougher protections so that people remain confident in data being used for patient gain.“


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