Precautions normally applied to all new technologies are not consistently applied to large language modeling (LLM) tools, which use AI to crunch data, create content and answer questions, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned.

“Rapid adoption of untested systems can lead to errors by healthcare professionalscause harm to patients, erode trust in AI, and thereby undermine or delay the potential long-term benefits and uses of such technologies around the world, the agency said.

As such, the agency proposed that these issues be addressed and clear evidence of benefits is measured before their widespread use in routine healthcare and medicine.

Avoids health-related errors

While the WHO is enthusiastic about the appropriate use of technology to support healthcare professionals, patients, researchers and scientists, the WHO said these new AI-based tools require vigilanceespecially in light of such rapidly expanding platforms as ChatGPT, Bard, BERT and many others that imitate understanding, processing and producing human communication.

For example, these new tools can generate answers that may seem authoritative and reasonable to an end user. The danger is that these answers may be completely wrong or contain serious errors, especially when it comes to health problems, the WHO said.

They can be too misused to generate and spread highly persuasive disinformation in the form of text, audio or video content that is difficult for the public to distinguish from reliable health content.

Safely leverage AI

The risks must be carefully examined When using these new tools to improve access to health information, as a decision support tool, or even to improve diagnostic capacity in under-resourced areas to protect people’s health and reduce inequality, WHO said.

Committed to harnessing new technologies to improve human health, WHO recommends that policy makers ensure patient safety and protection as technology companies work to commercialize LLM tools.

The agency reiterated the importance of apply ethical principles and appropriate governance. In this spirit, the UN health agency published 2021 Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence for Health prior to the adoption of first global agreement on The ethics of AI.