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Spotlight On:: Artificial Intelligence | Tech, Tools & Tips for Researchers

Try AI: Experiment Wisely!

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AI Technologies

What is AI? Why is there a lot of discussion happening now?


While the field of AI has been around for a while, the recent developments in deep learning and neural networks have accelerated our ability to leverage vast amount of data to build better models. These models in turn, became better at things like problem solving and pattern recognition and began to set new benchmarks for natural language abilities. A recently released AI tool called Chat-GPT really turned the spotlight towards AI, as over a hundred million users flocked to test it out in the first quarter of 2023. Many are now looking to see what else this new era of tech can offer to our lives, whether that be in work or at home.

In libraries and for researchers, AI technologies hold a lot of promise to support and augment our abilities to generate, analyze, apply, and spread knowledge. Take a look at some of the videos, tools, and tips in this guide to learn more!

Recommended Reads

Video Highlights

Tools for Researchers

How can I effectively use AI to…

  • inform decision making?
  • assist with research tasks?
  • help me stay up to date?
  • brainstorm research questions?

In the world of AI, not all tools are created equal! These apps can vary significantly in their capability and degree of specialization. You might be more familiar with those purpose-built for content generation (like Chat-GPT or Midjourney), but there are an increasing number of tools made for information retrieval and researcher workflows. How well a tool performs can vary drastically based on things like a user's input, the size and scope of its training data, and training quality (and more!). There are thousands of new apps serving niche markets and users, so experiment safely and wisely.

Here are some starting points you might wish to explore:

Tool Description Notes Elicit can help with finding papers to cite and defining research directions. If you ask a question, Elicit will show relevant papers and summaries of key information about those papers in an easy-to-use table. It will also help you brainstorm research questions. Sign-up required. Free and Paid versions. "How to Use Elicit Responsibly"
Perplexity AI Perplexity is an AI-chat-based conversational search engine that delivers answers to questions using language models. If you ask a question, it will provide a summarized answer and can show all the sources used in-context. Free and Paid versions. App available.
Semantic Scholar Semantic Scholar is an AI-powered search and discovery tool that helps researchers discover and understand scientific literature. It will extract meaning and identify connections across papers to make it easier to find the right information. Free. Zotero integration. Tutorials available.
ResearchRabbit ResearchRabbit a literature mapping platform that takes one or more relevant seed papers and uses AI to suggest and visualize relevant literature and researchers. It can also help you stay up-to-date with new research alerts. Sign-up required. Free. Zotero integration.
Consensus Consensus is a search engine that uses AI to quickly find answers to questions from scientific research. It works by using AI to read through peer-reviewed research and extract the key findings from each paper. Sign-up required. Free and paid versions available.
Connected Papers Connected Papers allows you to input any paper identifier and create a visual graph of the related research. It uses the Semantic Scholar database (above) to source the literature. Free (5 graphs/month) and paid versions available. 

*For a walk-through of these tools and many others, Dr. Andrew Stapleton's site and channel is a good starting-point to explore research-related tools and see how they compare!

Tips for Using AI Tech

Do's and Don'ts of Using the Tech:

  • Be mindful of how your data is being used. Prior to using a tool, familiarize yourself with the terms of use and how the company is using the data that you are providing it with. Don't provide these tools with any sensitive information and no AHS data or business information should ever be used/fed to any AI tool.
  • Don't use your AHS credentials to create accounts on these third-party sites. Keep your AHS email and password private, secure, and unique, and don't use them in part or whole when signing-up for outside accounts. 
  • Verify, verify, verify! Don't blindly trust the information that is being generated and always verify the output against other evidence-based sources. Even when citations and references look correct, they can be entirely made up.
  • Some AI tools can be helpful as a means to brainstorm or outline ideas but be wary of its use as a long-form content generator. Many academic publishers have outlined new policies that ban or restrict using AI-chat bots, and in practice, often generates lower quality content that can require a great deal of correction.
When attempting to access a third-party AI tool online, users may be redirected to an alert message asking them to acknowledge their understanding of the appropriate use of AHS data:

“You are entering a public, generative AI site where the information you provide is retained by a third-party, which is not within the control of Alberta Health Services. This is a reminder not to share confidential AHS health, personal, or business information on this site [...] Click here to return to or click here to proceed.”

Recommended Reads

What is on the horizon for health care?

As we strive to improve healthcare outcomes, boost efficiency, and reduce costs, AI has the potential to play an important role in revolutionizing health care delivery. Exciting advancements are being made with medically trained large-language models like Med-PALM 2, showing us glimpses of what is to come.

However, whether we are automating administrative tasks or enhancing the accuracy of diagnostics with AI technologies it will be important to approach these emerging technologies with caution. It will be necessary to fully investigate the key risks involved and address critical privacy and security concerns, as well as establish robust ethical frameworks and explore requirements for regulatory oversight. The Canada Health Infoway AI Toolkit provides a great primer on some of these integral components as we start adopting AI technologies.

Recommended Reads

Additional Resources

  • Artificial intelligence in healthcare: An essential guide for health leaders.  Healthcare Management Forum. 2020;33(1):10-18.
    • This article provides a guide to understand the fundamentals of AI technologies (ie, machine learning, natural language processing, and AI voice assistants) as well as their proper use in healthcare. It also provides practical recommendations to help decision-makers develop an AI strategy that can support their digital healthcare transformation.
    • A NEJM journal aimed to identify and evaluate state-of-the-art applications of artificial intelligence to clinical medicine.

      - A monthly podcast of informal conversation exploring the deep issues at the intersection of artificial intelligence and medicine
      - Twice-monthly newsletter with information from the latest podcast
      - Virtual events around medical AI