Enrico Coiera

Australia will have a seat at the table to guide the responsible development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) internationally and Macquarie University’s Professor Enrico Coiera, Director of the Centre for Health Informatics at the Australian Institute of Health Innovation and the lead of the Australian Alliance for Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare will have a central voice.

Just announced by the Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, The Hon Karen Andrews MP, the world’s first multilateral forum, known as Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI) dedicated to AI has been set up. The forum will seek to tackle issues such as the use of AI in policing and surveillance and the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges associated with these new technologies.

AI tools, i.e. computer technologies that perform tasks that would otherwise require human cognition, could also help deliver more efficient and effective healthcare by freeing up health professionals to spend more time with patients and potentially reduce stressful workloads.

Professor Coiera who is one of the Australian experts appointed to the new forum, has an extensive professional background in medicine and computer science and a PhD in AI. Professor Coiera also leads the Australian Alliance for AI in Healthcare who are setting up the National COVID-19 Research Platform, a group whose aim it is to fast track access to and development of clinical AI and data analytic technologies to assist decision making by clinicians, researchers, public health officials, industry, NGOs and government – nationally and worldwide.

The National COVID-19 Research Platform will aggregate information about the many different COVID-19 algorithms and data sets available to the community and provide a directory service that matches up skilled researchers with COVID-19 projects.

Speaking about the GPAI, Professor Coiera said: “Around the world the level of interest and investment in AI in healthcare is enormous. Australia has the opportunity to learn from those nations that have moved early, but we still need to move quickly”.

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the potential for AI to enhance infectious disease tracking, support diagnosis and facilitate drug discovery and development. There are even examples of technologies being developed that use AI to monitor patients remotely.

“COVID-19 stretched the capability of researchers, clinicians and policy makers to respond to the crisis—AI could have supported them,” Professor Coiera says.

These technologies are already becoming available. This emerging world in which AI is part of routine healthcare delivery is one where doctors and patients need to be trained to safely and effectively use the technology.”

Macquarie University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Professor Sakkie Pretorius welcomed Professor Coiera’s appointment to the GPAI.

“I would like to congratulate Professor Coiera on his appointment to this important global roundtable. His pre-eminence in the examination and use of AI and his immense contribution to AI research in healthcare at Macquarie University will prove invaluable to the group.”