SOCIETAL IMPLICATIONS OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE TOPIC OF LECTURE
Participants in the 21st Virtual Lecture Series hosted by Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health were clockwise from top left: Leslie Walker, Jay McFarlan, Geneva Neal and Stefan Salcher. (Submitted photo)
On Tuesday, Feb. 7, Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health (Gateway) hosted their 21st Virtual Lecture Series discussing “Societal Implications of Artificial Intelligence”.
The lecture was moderated by Gateway Chair Dan Stringer and hosted by keynote speaker Leslie Walker. She is a Research Associate at Gateway, as well as a Management Consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers and a Doctorate of Social and Economic Sciences Student at the University of Technology in Vienna, Austria.
Additionally, the event featured panelists: Sr. Data Analyst with Creative Destruction Lab at the University of Toronto, Geneva Neal; CEO of Druckster and Founder of Young Entrepreneurs of Vienna, Austria, Stefan Salcher; and Gateway Research Chair of Rural Nutrition and Exercise, Jay McFarlan.
Walker shared a quote from her study:
“The greatest challenge facing societies and firms would be utilizing the benefits of availing artificial intelligence technologies, providing vast opportunities for both new products/services and immense productivity improvements while avoiding the dangers and disadvantages in terms of increased unemployment and greater wealth inequalities.”
Walker presented her studies related to her current research as a Doctoral Student which focuses on policies to reduce the inequality associated with Artificial Intelligence (AI) in healthcare. As such, she spoke to her research conclusions being highly relevant to rural regions such as Huron County.
Within Walker’s presentation she states five key benefits of AI in healthcare being: reduced patient wait times, more efficient healthcare practices, improved accuracy of diagnoses, improved communication and coordination, and substantial cost savings. Within these findings, Walker’s goal was to carry out a case study rationalization approach in hopes of utilizing the benefits of AI while avoiding the disadvantages.
Walker then led the conversation with a panel discussion, giving each an opportunity to comment on the presentation.
Neal raised the point being that there is plenty of opportunity to utilize AI however there is also plenty of infrastructure that needs to be done to fully take advantage of these opportunities.
From a serial entrepreneur’s perspective, Salcher spoke about startups incorporating AI in many of the tasks that they do. Additionally, he spoke to the question: is AI going to take people’s jobs? He stated that he actually believes the opposite will happen – AI failing in some cases due to lack of human interaction.
Lastly, Jay McFarlan weighed in with his perspective as a technology hobbyist by pointing out the use of AI within Microsoft Teams as an example of automatically generating meeting minutes which reduces stress of an employee having to take them and finalize them during or after the fact.
Walker wrapped up the conversation by expressing that AI is similar to a sliding scale in regards to opportunity and risk; however it can be highly beneficial, if used correctly.
People are invited to watch the full virtual version of this lecture by visiting the: Gateway YouTube Channel.
All are invited to attend the next Gateway Rural Health Lecture on Tuesday, March 7 at noon. People can join by going to: Gateway Rural Health Lecture Series Registration. The next lecture will feature speaker Scott Brown. He will be speaking to the theme, “Gateway: At the Intersection of Organization and Place”.
Gateway recognizes their generous donors for their support of this lecture series.
HURON PERTH RESIDENTS OFFERED GUIDANCE ON ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION
In January, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction released Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health. The guidance replaces the 2011 Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines. It is based on the latest research into alcohol as a risk factor for injuries, violence, and several chronic diseases (including cancer, heart disease and stroke). Data show that alcohol consumption causes nearly 7,000 deaths from cancer each year in Canada.
“The more drinks you have weekly, the greater the risk of alcohol-related harms,” said Lindsay O’Donnell, Public Health promoter at Huron Perth Public Health (HPPH). “The best way to reduce your risk is to lower your alcohol use. No matter how much alcohol you currently consume, drinking less is better for your health.”
The updated advice supports people to make informed decisions about the amount of alcohol they consume. It outlines a continuum of risk associated with weekly alcohol use:
- Zero drinks per week, zero health risk. (Not drinking has many health benefits, including better sleep.)
- One to two standard drinks per week is considered low risk.
- Three to six standard drinks per week is a moderate risk. (Risk of developing several types of cancer, including breast and colon cancer, increases.)
- Seven or more standard drinks per week is an increasingly high risk. (Risk of heart disease or stroke increases.)
- With every additional drink, the risk of alcohol-related consequences, including injuries and violence, increases.
- When pregnant or trying to get pregnant, there is no known safe amount of alcohol. When breastfeeding, having no alcohol is safest.
Data from the Canadian Community Health Survey (2015-2020) shows that 26 per cent of Huron Perth residents aged 19 and older self-report consuming alcohol at a high risk level for alcohol-related consequences. This is more than the Ontario average of 21 per cent. Seventeen percent of local residents report having three to six drinks per week, while 38 per cent report having zero drinks in the past week. Compared to Ontario, fewer Huron Perth residents consume alcohol at a zero, low or moderate risk level.
Lower consumption means a lower risk of alcohol-related harm. No matter where a person places on the continuum, less alcohol is better. Anyone thinking about how they can reduce their risk should take stock of how many standard drinks they have in a week. In Canada, a standard drink is:
- Beer (12 oz., 341 ml, 5% alcohol)
- Cider or cooler (12 oz., 341 ml, 5% alcohol)
- Wine (5 oz., 142 ml, 12% alcohol)
- Spirits (1.5 oz., 43 ml, 40% alcohol)
Anyone who is looking for support to reduce alcohol consumption can talk to their health care provider; Call 2-1-1 or visit 211ontario.ca for social services, programs and community support; visit HPPH Community Services for addiction support services and other resources.