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James Zou: Trust is AI’s most critical contribution to health care

AI can reveal remarkable medical insights, but only if patients and doctors have faith in it. Thus, trust has become AI’s singular goal, says this expert in the field.
Photo of nurse using a computer in a hospital ward.
Zou’s research aims to improve the patient experience. | Stocksy/Morsa Images

Among the many areas James Zou might have chosen to apply his considerable knowledge of artificial intelligence, he opted for health care.

It was the most interesting, the most complex and the most impactful area of study. In short, it was the most exciting outlet for his expertise.

Since that epiphany, Zou has gone on to publish influential studies that have improved the patient experience, shaped basic research and sped the development of new drugs. Among his most important contributions, Zou says, are efforts to expose and overcome bias in the data and algorithms.

His latest project, Pathfinder, uses anonymized, real-world medical records to allow researchers to conduct synthetic clinical trials on fictional (but realistic) patients, as Zou explains in this episode of Stanford Engineering’s The Future of Everything podcast with host Russ Altman

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