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Ziad Obermeyer named one of TIME’s top 100 leaders in artificial intelligence

Dr. Ziad Obermeyer, an associate professor at UC Berkeley School of Public Health, has been named to the 2023 TIME100 AI list, the media company’s designation of the 100 most influential people working in artificial intelligence.

“I’m so honored to be on this list—and honestly a bit surprised too,” said Obermeyer, Blue Cross of California Distinguished Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management.  “I think of myself as a doctor who works on problems in medicine, more than an AI person.

“But I think that’s the exciting part about AI: It’s very applied. And by working to solve real health problems, we can learn a lot about how AI works in general; what it’s great at, where it goes wrong, and how to do better. Looking at this list, there are so many people building for a future where AI helps everyone, and that’s really exciting.”

In its September 7 announcement, TIME highlighted Dr. Obermeyer’s innovative research on how racial bias infiltrates the health care system, and noted a study in which he found that a widely used algorithm recommends less health care for Black patients, despite greater health needs, potentially jeopardizing the well-being of millions.

TIME also noted Dandelion Health, an AI-innovation platform Obermeyer co-founded in 2020. Dandelion makes health care data—like electrocardiogram waveforms, sleep monitoring data, and digital pathology—available to algorithm developers for free. TIME also mentioned Nightingale Open Science, Obermeyer’s nonprofit company, which builds out datasets in partnership with health systems around the world. Its goal is to bring an open science mentality to health care data, to answer questions like, why do some cancers spread, while others don’t?

Obermeyer told TIME that he is cautiously optimistic about AI’s impact on health care—although it’s crucial to ensure the new technology doesn’t cause harm.

“The biggest and most exciting things that are going to happen in the field are nowhere even close to happening yet,” he told TIME. “We don’t have the imagination to think about what this is going to do in 20 years, 100 years, and how it’s going to totally transform health care.”