HIMSS 2017: IBM's Ginni Rometty talks trust, values in a cognitive computing era

Orlando Florida
At HIMSS 2017 in Orlando, Florida, Ginni Rometty's opening keynote focused on values and transparency in cognitive computing. (doescreative/Getty Images)
Ginni Rometty IBM
Ginni Rometty

ORLANDO, Fla.—Artificial intelligence and cognitive computing are “mainstream and here,” but to ensure that clinicians use them effectively to improve care the data must be transparent, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty told the HIMSS audience at the opening keynote on Monday.

Healthcare technology is on the cusp of becoming more secure, less wasteful, more personalized, more fair and more just, she said.  

“Every new era [comes] with amazing, inspiring dreams, but they also come with questions,” she said. “We have to take [those questions] seriously. When a new era comes, it’s our responsibility to guide that technology into the world in an ethical and a really enduring way.”

Transparency and trust in a cognitive era

Physicians, researchers and other end users care about how cognitive systems are “trained.” They won’t trust conclusions if they don’t know how the system reached them.  

To build transparency and trust, both vendors and providers must adopt these principles:

Have a clear purpose. There should be no mistake we are building technology to augment, not replace, what people do. “This isn’t man versus machine. This is man and machine together,” she said.

Be transparent. Be clear with users about how AI is trained and who trained it. The business model—including who owns insights and intellectual property—must also be transparent, she said.

Be honest about impact on jobs. Yes, some jobs will change, but there will be new jobs with new skill sets to replace them. Training for those future “new collar” jobs is key.

“When I say I believe in moonshots, I really believe in it,” Rometty said. Technology might be at the center, but values must be at the core.