Stratospheric safety standards: How aviation could steer regulation of AI in health

Marzyeh Ghassemi, principal investigator at MIT Jameel Clinic, is among the researchers, attorneys and analysts working to improve AI in healthcare through lessons from the aviation industry.


What is the likelihood of dying in a plane crash? According to a 2022 report released by the International Air Transport Association, the industry fatality risk is 0.11. In other words, on average, a person would need to take a flight every day for 25,214 years to have a 100 percent chance of experiencing a fatal accident. Long touted as one of the safest modes of transportation, the highly regulated aviation industry has MIT scientists thinking that it may hold the key to regulating artificial intelligence in health care.

Marzyeh Ghassemi, an assistant professor at the MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) and Institute of Medical Engineering Sciences, and Julie Shah, an H.N. Slater Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, share an interest in the challenges of transparency in AI models. After chatting in early 2023, they realised that aviation could serve as a model to ensure that marginalised patients are not harmed by biased AI models.  

Ghassemi, who is also a principal investigator at the MIT Abdul Latif Jameel Clinic for Machine Learning in Health (Jameel Clinic) and the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), and Shah then recruited a cross-disciplinary team of researchers, attorneys and policy analysts across MIT, Stanford University, the Federation of American Scientists, Emory University, University of Adelaide, Microsoft and the University of California San Francisco to kick off a research project, the results of which were recently accepted to the Equity and Access in Algorithms, Mechanisms and Optimisation Conference.

MIT News