Dr Rebecca Pope is former lead data scientist and now head of data science and engineering at KPMG UK and is an expert in healthcare and AI. At a recent panel debate, she gave her views on automation in healthcare and IBM Watson, and held a strong opinion on why the UK is falling behind in the race to lead AI globally.
In regard to the nation that will dominate in artificial intelligence in the future, Pope thinks this will be China because of its “hell-bent view on education." In contrast, she feels that in the UK, the current model of educational progression will not suffice for a future which will require the continuous learning necessary for the development of AI.
She added that education will not only have to continuous but equitable and therefore accessible to people who live in rural areas, are from poorer backgrounds and haven’t attended university.
Pope said that if we think of artificial intelligence jobs and skills as a race between ourselves and other tech nations, we will lose because we lack the infrastructure to educate young people and ourselves, and we are too far behind in how we educate and upskill our workforce.
People will have to take the initiative to re-educate themselves through portals such as Coursera so they can learn new skills such as how to do a lambda function to apply across a series, said Pope.
She also said that she has contributed to a report on the matter. “We have written at KMPG ‘How does the UK win the AI race globally?’ and I say in that, we won’t. We won’t because we’re way too far behind in how we educate and how we upskill our workforce.”
When asked how she would advise the government about artificial intelligence in healthcare, she responded that there is a very clear value exchange for public organisations like the NHS from the training of algorithms. However, she said some technologies for healthcare have been hyped up and underdelivered.
“There has been a failure and it is a failure of a lot of the Watson publications with the marketing materials. Watson just got slapped on everything big blue. They had done some absolutely fantastic research but overpromised and underdelivered and I think the problem becomes when you let marketing loose,” Pope explained.
She said that as a result the hype the positive achievements of Watson were overshadowed. Pope also referred to Google Deep Mind as another healthcare technology where the noteworthy accomplishments were eclipsed.
In 2017, information commissioner Elizabeth Denham found the extent of the data sharing between DeepMind and the Royal Free Hospital to be illegal. According to Pope, it should still be remembered that “DeepMind has done some absolutely amazing research for diabetic retinopathy.” Her main worry about healthcare is that there needs to be a fair value exchange for the training of algorithms. She also said that fortunately in this country, we own our own healthcare data, such as scans and x-rays.
“We have a value exchange insofar as ’yes you can train algorithms to do certain things but I own that data and the value exchange should go back into that public service’.” As such Pope believes there needs to be a complete pivot shift in the way that NHS data is used because it is so valuable.
Dr Rebecca Pope was speaking at Scaling AI in the Enterprise, an event hosted by 6point6 and InstaDeep.