SCIENTIFIC SESSIONS KEYNOTE: Murat Sönmez, World Economic Forum tackle ethics, equity and access of big data

Against the historic backdrop of Philadelphia, Murat Sönmez charted the course for the future of big data while sharing important lessons from history.

Murat Sönmez

Sönmez, keynote speaker in Scientific Sessions’ Presidential Session, is managing director of the World Economic Forum and head of its Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network.

Sönmez spoke to the heart of the fourth industrial revolution — a concept in the international community that represents the current state of rapid, simultaneous and systemic transformations driven by advances in science and technology. It’s reshaping the landscape of industry, geographic boundaries and pushing the confines of existing regulatory infrastructures.

“As technology evolves, it’s changing everything,” Sönmez said. “Artificial intelligence has been elevated from limited data and now has all of our systems falling behind in the ‘too late zone.’ Yet, with it, we may be able to solve some of the biggest challenges in medicine by combining data from a number of sources.”

Sönmez took a look at the impact of the first industrial revolution, which used water and steam power to mechanize production; the second industrial revolution, which leveraged electricity to create mass production; and the third industrial revolution, which used electronics and information technology to automate production. Fueled by the third, the fourth digital revolution is a combination of technologies that merge physical, digital and biological systems.

Today, as data expands at an exponential rate, Sönmez said it makes our interaction with machines and information more “common, natural and powerful.” Data is essential for evolving AI applications, he said, including gene-sequencing in medicine. The more data, the more accurate AI predictions become.

Sönmez highlighted the centre’s key work, including helping Rwanda develop drone regulation for the supply of blood products to rural communities in Africa and Asia.

“Because of this work, Rwanda is now the drone capital of the world,” he said.

However, with opportunities in the expansion of data comes questions, including “ethics, equity and access,” Sönmez said.

He noted the centre’s global initiative to accelerate the responsible, sustainable development of smart cities. It involves introducing policies to help corporate boards lead the responsible adoption of AI and develop new blueprints to safeguard the effective and responsible deployment of “internet-of-things devices.”

“It’s important to define who owns it, what can you do with it and who gets paid for it,” he said.

Sönmez likened these issues to those the music industry has faced. Unanswered questions are part of the work of the more than 100 international organizations, businesses and governments that have joined the centre’s mission to co-design and pilot policies for emerging technologies. The AHA is among its partners.

Moving forward, the response to the ethics, equity and access of data must be an integrated and comprehensive solution that encompasses the interests of all stakeholders around the globe, from the public and private sectors to academia and civil society.

“It’s important to have partners like the AHA work with us on a global basis in addressing all of the challenges we have,” Sönmez said.

AHA, WEF partnership fuels steady growth, success in clinical care

The American Heart Association and World Economic Forum are breaking down barriers to data to find new models to deliver health care solutions for patients.

With myriad strategies to pilot innovative approaches to policy and governance of new technologies, the collaboration has yielded initiatives that include:

  • Health and Health Care Governors Community: A partnership of industry leaders are mapping long-term sustainability of health care by accelerating value-based care, contributing to universal health coverage and advancing precision medicine. American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown has served as co-chair since 2018.
  • Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution: The initiative enables shared access of sensitive health data and advances genomic data to clinical care. The AHA is highly engaged in three of the centre’s Global Precision Medicine Workgroups, including Patient Engagement/Trust, Ethical Use of Technology/Data and Access/Delivery/Value/Reimbursement.
  • Heart Failure Pilot: The effort across major health systems and payers in Atlanta is focused on delivering value for stakeholders by linking clinical care to critical community services, aligning, tracking and benchmarking outcomes, and centering on patient outcomes. The infrastructure built through this effort addresses additional health conditions appropriate for a value-based relationship.
  • Sustainable Development Impact Summit: The annual event is dedicated to solving global environmental and human health care crises. It has spurred the growth of related events; workshops and roundtable discussions on such topics as universal health care coverage, care and communications during a health care outbreak; the use of technology to improve health outcomes; sustainable development for the health care industry; new research and service models to improve mental health care; and the private sector’s role in addressing social determinants of health.
  • Global Coalition on Value in Healthcare: Influential organizations that convene are dedicated to value-based health system transformation at global, national and subnational scales. They’re providing a platform to “incubate” models and disseminate shared learning. Brown serves on the Executive Board.

”I am honored to represent the American Heart Association as a member of the World Economic Forum,” Brown said. “The cross-country discussion on global health challenges afford global health leaders the opportunity to tackle the world’s most pressing health challenges so people can live longer, healthier lives.”