UCL School of Management

Rikke Duus | 17 November 2022

New perspectives on how AI is transforming healthcare, education and urban spaces

This week, Dr Rikke Duus, Associate Professor, and Tom Pieroni, Senior Trainer & Learning Manager at the Open Data Institute (ODI), came together to deliver a session designed to provide UCL School of Management’s BSc Information Management for Business (IMB) students with new perspectives on how AI is transforming healthcare and meeting emerging patient needs; how education delivery is affected by digital platforms, virtual worlds and flexible learning modes; and how cities and urban spaces are reimagined to deliver human-centric living, enabled by digital technology.  

The session was designed to inspire students and give them insight into how digital technologies are affecting fundamental service sectors, such as healthcare and education, and playing a key role in creating new forms of living spaces. Students studying this module are in the process of finalising their team-based digital transformation projects. They will now move on to the next stage, designing and developing innovative individual digital debates related to healthcare, education or city transformation.

This was the first of two sessions that explore key issues related to the digital transformation of healthcare, education, and city transformation. These two sessions will engage students in reflecting on the benefits and the new value created from the use of digital technologies as well as the ‘darker’ sides and unintended consequences that digital transformation brings.

A critical component of digital transformation is the capture, analysis and usage of data. Tom Pieroni, the ODI in the role of Senior Trainer & Learning Manager gave students an introduction to the ODI, which was founded in 2012 by Sir Nigel Shadbolt and Sir Tim Berners-Lee. The ODI is an international, independent and not-for-profit organisation based in London with the mission of working with companies and governments to build an open, trustworthy data ecosystem. Tom delved into multiple scenarios to highlight the biases and assumptions that can sometimes creep in when working with data and how this can affect decision-making. 

Discussing his thoughts on the session, current IMB student Reda El Bardai said: “During our lecture on MSIN0051 Digitial Strategy and Transformation, a guest speaker, Tom Pieroni from ODI (Open Data Institute) spoke to us about how data is used in various disciplines to aid society in different ways. Tom discussed the importance of data and highlighted examples in which geographical data is used for wind modeling, archeology, and Minecraft educational games. Moreover, he stressed the importance of gathering reliable data, as the result of such analysis is only as reliable as the data that is used. This was stressed by showing us a past example in which Google tried to “reliably” predict where flu outrages would occur, which failed because their data was unreliable. This was useful to our module since our individual assignment go into detail about the benefits and drawbacks of the usage of digital technologies and data. Throughout the lecture, Rikke and Tom switched speaking roles to “mix and match” Tom’s expertise with Rikke’s insight related to the key themes of the individual assignment to highlight the relevance of the assignment in a real-world setting. Overall, the session was interesting, as we benefitted from the insight of a guest speaker and we gained new insight that is helpful towards understanding how to approach the individual assignment.”

Understanding the potential for both positive and negative consequences when capturing, analysing and visualising data is integral to the ODI’s mission. The important skills of the future are not only technical but also involve being able to collaborate and cooperate with a broad range of stakeholders who can translate data into information and ultimately into knowledge.

Reflecting on the themes of the session, Tom said: “The scenarios serve to demonstrate to the students that the value of data-driven decision making may not always be the panacea it’s intended to be. Understanding the implications of bias at any point during the data lifecycle, whether that is at the point of collection, analysis, model development and deployment, as well as at the point of disposal is imperative to ensuring a human-centred outcome. The work students are undertaking in this module to consider the ethics of technological development and transformation is vital to ensuring their contributions to the future of AI and tech enabled solutions are both effective and equitable.”

The ODI has openly licensed several tools to support organisations in exploring the effectiveness of their solutions and challenging their own assumptions. These tools include:

Learn more about our BSc Information Management for Business programme.

Rikke Duus

Last updated Thursday, 17 November 2022