COVID Conversations

COVID Conversations

COVID Conversations (Time zone: EST)

Accessibility : Unfortunately, we are not able to provide live ASL, live captioning or French interpretation at this time — this is something we are working on for future events.


Health Care Data, Ethics and Equity in an AI world

This series focuses on the relationship between health care data, Big Tech and privatization, and explores the implications for patient privacy, safety, and equity in Ontario and Canada, with a focus on Black communities. Over 3 days, starting Wednesday July 22nd – Friday July 24th, we bridge disciplines and conversations, bringing together academics and community scholars. For bio please click on names

Format: Each guest will have 10-15 minutes to share their knowledge and expertise, followed by a brief discussion with the moderator, LLana James. Sessions will close with questions from attendees.

Wednesday July 22nd

2:30 – 3:30pm EST

Opening Ceremony: Joanna Meawasige – Vautour

Land Acknowledgement

Introduction: An overview and context of the session will be provided prior to introducing each discussant.

Health care data and informed consent in the 21st century: what tech companies have planned for patient information, and why you need to know.

Jack Poulson will provide a window into the plans the “Big Six” tech companies (Amazon, Google, Facebook, IBM, Microsoft, Apple) have for patient data. This session is a must for hospitals, community health centres, health care policy-makers, researchers, community legal clinics and all those whose work involves confidential health care information and equity. In a recent interview in The Guardian, Poulson discussed the need for tech workers to understand what they are engaging in, saying, “I believe tech workers need informed consent about when their work may lead to loss of life or suppression of human rights or freedoms.” People working in health care should have this same right. Further, the health system has an obligation to inform patients about what they’re really agreeing to when they share their data with health care systems and software. LLana James and Jack Poulson will provide tools to help think through what it means to be collecting and handling confidential health care data in the 21st century.

(click on names to read bios)

Jack Poulson
LLana James


Thursday July 23rd

2:30 – 3:30pm EST

Data, algorithms, and automation as “weapons of math destruction”: a mathematician’s insights into the implications of AI for equity and universal health care.

Mathematician Cathy O’Neil will explain in plain language the way that data, algorithms and automation function together to exploit individuals and communities. During this session LLana James and Cathy O’Neil will explore the mounting reports of data grabs by various actors during the pandemic, and investigate who benefits, and how. We will also outline data laws and regulations with the potential to limit exploitation of peoples’ personal health information. Using a thought experiment, Cathy will explore the real costs of insufficient data protections and demonstrate why patients, researchers, administrators, clinicians, and policy-makers need to be proactive in protecting peoples’ data. 

(click on names to read bios)

Cathy O’Neil
LLana James


Friday July 24th

2:30pm – 3:30pm EST

Public health, Ethics and COVID-19: how the next generation of scholars and organizers see the current moment.

Nishan Zewge-Abubaker, Ciann Wilson and LLana James will explore the intersection of public health, race-based data, privacy, and Big Tech within local and national contexts. They will reflect on the ethical questions Cathy O’Neil and Jack Poulson brought into view, with a focus on data sharing during and post COVID-19. Recent changes to Ontario’s Reg. 569 and Bill 188 Schedule 2, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and Schedule 6 the Personal Health Information Act will be explored as a case study. This dynamic and interactive conversation from the next generation of scholars and organizers will examine how data and who controls it—affects people, neighbourhoods and health.

(click on names to read bios)

Nishan Zewge-Abubaker,

Ciann Wilson

LLana James


Closing Ceremony: Denise Baldwin

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