THE RISE PROJECT
Racially Inclusive Skin Evidence: A future where all are equal under the eyes of those who need to see us
A VITAL NEED
Inclusive representation is important in all fields and vital in medicine, where it can, quite literally, save lives. White normativity in medical teaching means that medical students are often unprepared in recognising signs of certain diseases in BAME patients that do not present in the same way as white patients and/or are not as clinically obvious.
A recent American study found that in leading textbooks only 4.5% of skin tones represented were darker. Lack of diversity in teaching at UK medical schools, mirrored by many medical textbooks, perpetuates racial inequality. At this stage, we focus only on physiological data.
But now imagine, putting that power back in the hands of the doctors, the educators and the public to know, show and tell that this is what is killing us. That would be a big win. For now.
Think of the future though, healthcare, recruitment even driving will likely be delegated to Artificial Intelligence, and we know from news coverage that there is a diversity problem in AI data sets. Not due to malicious intent, but because the motivation and action to make it truly inclusive has not materialised. This sows the seeds for future discrimination, for a system of diminishing returns that segregates the world and systematically excludes those who look different.
Unless representation from the teaching stage, whether it is a medical student or an algorithm is inclusive, it will never be equal.
We need to RISE to this challenge before we violate the principles already in law through unconscious bias. RISE is a non-for-profit organisation, based in Oxford, UK.
Making a change in the digital world
We collect and share images (GDPR compliant) that show skin-related conditions in different skin tones, such as meningitis. The images are aimed towards informing healthcare providers, students, guardians and the general public.
At the core of the RISE project, there is a big ambition: to collect the necessary datasets to create diverse and inclusive artificial intelligence. From recruiting to traffic monitoring and autonomous applications, it is crucial that algorithms are trained in a manner that sees all humans as equal.
Nowhere is the need, urgency and potential for change as great as in the field of digital healthcare, such as digital dermatology. From rashes, internal bleeding to skin cancer and "COVID toe", we now know how important is for digital healthcare to be developed on the right dataset.
"Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible."