As two of the world leaders in artificial intelligence (AI), it is perhaps no surprise that the US and China have seen the industry as a key battleground in their ongoing trade war. But when it comes to AI healthcare, however, experts are speaking out against this approach.

Current trade war maneuverings have seen the US restrict Chinese involvement in the country’s AI initiatives, despite the might of knowledge available through China’s AI experts, with healthcare among the industries impacted.

The latest casualty has been Chinese AI company iCarbonX, which has been ordered to divest its majority ownership of PatientsLikeMe, a US company using AI to conduct real-time medical research with patient data.

However, this approach is meeting resistance.

In the latest issue of the journal Nature Biotechnology, two experts, one from China and one from the US, have co-authored a commentary arguing for greater international collaboration on AI for healthcare.

Rejecting the trade war: Why global collaboration matters to AI healthcare

Entitled It Takes a Planet, the piece is authored Eric Topol, executive vice president at Scripps Research, and Kai-Fu Lee, CEO of Sinovation Ventures and author of the book AI Superpowers.

In the piece, they argued that forcing Chinese companies to divest holdings in US organisations, such as with iCarbonX, is harming development of the potential of AI to revolutionise healthcare.

“Chinese academics and companies already have unfettered access to personal health data,” they wrote.

“To compete in AI health, US companies will need access to clinical data on a similar scale. How will that be possible if the current isolationist policy continues?”

AI and the future of medicine

The authors also argue that successfully harnessing the ever-expanding availability of data is essential to cutting wastage, burnout and inefficiencies that are rampant in the medical industry – and that this cannot be achieved without technologies such as AI.

“These problems mandate big thinking on how we can pool our resources to promote better health everywhere and for everyone,” they wrote.

“We have at our fingertips technology capable of analysing petabytes of data. The difference now is that it is potentially achievable by capitalizing on the ability to analyse the data rather than capitulating to the challenge. Let us embrace this opportunity by working together collaboratively across the planet for the greater good of all.”

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