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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Many health-related AI technologies today are biased because they're built on datasets largely comprised of men and individuals of European descent.

Why it matters: An AI system trained to identify diseases, conditions and symptoms in people in these datasets could fail when presented with data from people with different characteristics.

Background: AI-powered disease detection technology is part of the health care AI market expected to exceed $34 billion by 2025.

  • Researchers recently demonstrated that AI used in breast cancer screenings correctly identified more cancers, reduced false positives and improved reading times.

What's happening: Most medical research tends to focus on men, and most genetic data publicly available is from individuals of European descent. As AI is increasingly used in medicine, it could result in misdiagnoses of patients based on their gender, race and/or ethnicity.

  • While heart attacks generally strike men and women equally, they are more likely to be fatal in women, which can be caused by a delay in care due to gender-based differences in symptoms.
  • Similarly, if a person is not of European descent, AI medical technologies may incorrectly diagnose that person, as their symptoms and disease manifestations could differ
  • Recent studies and mishaps have shown that our current data and programs that rely on AI, like search engines and image recognition software, are biased in ways that can cause harm.

What we're watching: Some steps are being taken to ensure that AI is evaluated for bias, including proposed legislation.

  • The National Institutes of Health launched a new program last year to expand diversity in medical research and data by soliciting volunteers from populations that are currently underrepresented.

Go deeper: Scientists call for rules on evaluating predictive AI in medicine

Miriam Vogel is the executive director of Equal AI, a professor at Georgetown Law and a former associate deputy attorney general at the Department of Justice.

Go deeper

In photos: Protesters rally for George Floyd ahead of Derek Chauvin's trial

Chaz Neal, a Redwing community activist, outside the Minnesota Governor's residence during a protest in support of George Floyd in St.Paul, Minnesota, on March 6. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Dozens of protesters were rallying outside the Minnesota governor's mansion in St Paul Saturday, urging justice for George Floyd ahead of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start this Monday, with jury selection procedures.

Biden says $1,400 stimulus payments can start going out this month

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

President Biden said Saturday that the Senate passage of his $1.9 trillion COVID relief package means the $1,400 direct payments for most Americans can begin going out later this month.

Driving the news: The Senate voted 50-49 Saturday to approve the sweeping legislation. The House is expected to pass the Senate's version of the bill next week before it heads to Biden's desk for his signature.