Tag Archives: Emerging Technologies

Avoiding the toaster at the CILIP Employers Forum: artificial intelligence and libraries

On the 20th November 2018 I attended the CILIP Employers Forum. One of the talks was by Terry Corby on “Avoiding the Toaster! Meeting the challenge of disruptive innovation”. The toaster in the title was alluding to the idea that if we fail to deal with disruptive innovation, we will become “toast”.

Terry argued that automation is already here:

  • “60% of occupations could have 30% or more of their activities automated with current technology”
  • 20% of a CEO’s activities could be automated now
  • The cost benefits are between three and ten times the investment. Only human factors prevent it happening.
  • AI solutions tend to work best when they have a human element as well.

Examples he gave of good disruption were:

Many companies foresaw future disruption but failed to capitalise:

  • Kodak invented digital photography
  • Xerox invented the Graphical User Interface and the computer mouse.

Among Terry’s suggestions for how to operate in this environment were:

  • Seek out stakeholders who will insist on innovation.
  • Find out what your customer really wants and values.
  • Work on many innovations, expecting that most will fail, but some may greatly succeed.
  • Create a culture that encourages innovation and learning.
  • Completely master new skills if you can, or recognise when you can’t.
  • Be an outsider in new areas, not just an insider in your own.

Established companies are often at a disadvantage because they don’t recognise the threat and fear cannibalising their business

The challenge Terry laid down to librarians was that we had allowed search engines to roll over us, would we do the same for artificial intelligence? He doesn’t know our field and so had no answers, but he did call us to think these issues through for ourselves, and then we will avoid someone “eating our breakfast”.

Now over to you: what do you think? Leave a comment below.

Stephen Ayre

Emerging Technologies Group

We live an age of amazing technological advance. Predictions of what is just around the corner are many. But what are the implications for health librarians?

This group has been put together to keep an eye on possible future developments in technology and think about their implications for librarians in healthcare.  See the post ‘Introducing the Group’ for more information.

Previous posts have included:

The membership of the group is currently:

  • Stephen Ayre (George Eliot Hospital) [Chair]
  • Richard Bridgen (Health Education England)
  • YiWen Hon (Royal Marsden Hospital)
  • Trish Lacey (Public Health England)
  • Catherine Micklethwaite (Torbay and South Devon)
  • Ian Rennie (Cambridgeshire and Peterborough)

See the Emerging Technologies Group section of the Knowledge for Healthcare blog.

We’re looking to recruit new members for the group, so if this work interests and inspires you, please contact Stephen Ayre to join the group. Alternatively contact him to suggest a technology-related topic to look at.

Blockchain

Emerging Technology Group updates will be produced every 2 months, as members of the group take it in turns to update the wider NHS library community on key topics. This time, we will be discussing blockchain and its implications for health libraries.

Blockchain: what is it?

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum have been prominently featured in the media over the past 6 months or so. They are all based on the same technology: blockchain. Simply, blockchain is a secure digital record keeping system that is spread out across a large network. Information is stored in encrypted blocks which are then chained together. Information cannot be changed once it has been added to the chain, and because the chain is distributed across the whole network, it is very secure. There are more detailed explanations available on Wikipedia or from the LSE Business Review blog.

Implications for healthcare

There are a number of different ways in which blockchain could be applied in healthcare. One option which has seen significant interest is using blockchain to manage the storage and sharing of medical records, as is being explored at MIT. Till et al (2017) have also argued that blockchain could potentially be used to finance universal health coverage. Other potential applications of blockchain in healthcare could be in securely storing and tracking research metadata, global health patterns, or administrative and financial information (Gordon et al, 2017). This is an area that is seeing a lot of research and there are numerous startups exploring the opportunities available.

What about libraries?

Hoy (2017) argues that the blockchain could be used as a digital rights management (DRM) tool to aid in copyright protection. Blockchain could even potentially be used as a library management system to keep track of circulation in a decentralised way (Cabello et al, 2017). Another potential could be in the creation and maintenance of authority records for cataloguing and metadata. The project Blockchains for the Information Profession by San Jose State University is a good source of information and probably the best way to stay up-to-date in this field.

There’s always a but…

The long term viability of blockchain remains to be seen. One of the concerns that has been raised relates to the wider environmental impact of these distributed networks, which is already consuming more energy than the whole of the Republic of Ireland, although this estimate is also up for debate. In addition to this, there remain numerous barriers to the more widespread adoption of blockchain in healthcare or in libraries, not least technical issues relating to the interoperability of metadata, as well as a current lack of clarity around governance, regulation, and wider economic impact (Deshpande et al, 2017).

What can we do?

Keeping abreast of developments in this field so that we can have informed discussions with others within and outside our organisations would be a good place to start. I would argue that the proliferation of private companies leading the way in implementing blockchain in healthcare is an issue of concern. For any solutions to be sustainable in the long term, we need to be playing an active role in conversations around emerging technologies such as this.

References:

 

YiWen Hon
Knowledge Resources Manager
Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.