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UK medical student creates handbook to show clinical symptoms on darker skin
Doctors may be missing fatal illnesses because medical textbooks are biased toward white skin.
- A medical student in the UK recently created a handbook to help trainee doctors recognize life-threatening conditions on black and brown skin.
- "Mind the Gap" includes images that display how certain illnesses appear on both darker and lighter skin tones.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated problems with suspected coronavirus patients being asked if they are "pale" or if their lips "turned blue".
Look in a medical textbook for the symptoms of a rash and you'll probably find "red bumps." Look up oxygen deprivation and you'll get "blue lips" as a common sign. Melanin typically alters those colors, so those diagnostics don't always apply to non-white skin — i.e., most of the world's population. And it can have fatal consequences.After being taught clinical signs and symptoms on white skin, a Black medical student at St. George's University of London, Malone Mukwende, recently created a handbook to help trainee doctors recognize life-threatening conditions on black and brown skin.
Mind the Gap
Photo Credit: St George's University of London
Mukwende has been working with Senior Lecturer in Diversity and Medical Education, Margot Turner, and Clinical Lecturer in Clinical Skills, Peter Tamony on the handbook "Mind the Gap" as part of a student-staff partnership project looking at clinical teaching on black and brown skins.
According to the British Medical Journal, Mind the Gap aims "to teach medical students and other health professionals about the importance of recognizing how some conditions can present differently in darker skins."
The book includes images that display how certain illnesses appear on both darker and lighter skin tones. Additionally, it includes suggestions for appropriate phrases and vernacular for doctors to use with their patients.
"It is important that we as future healthcare professionals are aware of these differences so that we don't compromise our care for certain groups," said Mukwende in a St George's University press release, noting that medical textbooks contain a 'white skin bias,' which has put the health of those groups at risk.
Though Mind the Gap is not currently published or available for distribution, discussions with potential publishers are ongoing according to St George University's statement.
Coronavirus and need for change
Mukwende explained that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated problems with suspected coronavirus patients being asked if they are "pale" or if their lips "turned blue".
"These are not useful descriptors for a black patient and, as a result, their care is compromised from the first point of contact," said Mukwende. "It is essential we begin to educate others so they are aware of such differences and the power of the clinical language we currently use. We will be hosting a training session for clinical skills peer tutors which will take place in July 2020."
He pointed out that conversations currently taking place regarding health disparities in the United Kingdom are pressuring universities to take real action to address those concerns. For example, at St George's there was a petition calling for teaching clinical skills on black and brown skin.
"The petition, Covid-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement all illustrate there is an urgent need for change," said Mukwende.
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"Deepfakes" and "cheap fakes" are becoming strikingly convincing — even ones generated on freely available apps.
- A writer named Magdalene Visaggio recently used FaceApp and Airbrush to generate convincing portraits of early U.S. presidents.
- "Deepfake" technology has improved drastically in recent years, and some countries are already experiencing how it can weaponized for political purposes.
- It's currently unknown whether it'll be possible to develop technology that can quickly and accurately determine whether a given video is real or fake.
The future of deepfakes<p>In 2018, Gabon's president Ali Bongo had been out of the country for months receiving medical treatment. After Bongo hadn't been seen in public for months, rumors began swirling about his condition. Some suggested Bongo might even be dead. In response, Bongo's administration released a video that seemed to show the president addressing the nation.</p><p>But the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=324528215059254" target="_blank">video</a> is strange, appearing choppy and blurry in parts. After political opponents declared the video to be a deepfake, Gabon's military attempted an unsuccessful coup. What's striking about the story is that, to this day, experts in the field of deepfakes can't conclusively verify whether the video was real. </p><p>The uncertainty and confusion generated by deepfakes poses a "global problem," according to a <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/research/is-seeing-still-believing-the-deepfake-challenge-to-truth-in-politics/#cancel" target="_blank">2020 report from The Brookings Institution</a>. In 2018, the U.S. Department of Defense released some of the first tools able to successfully detect deepfake videos. The problem, however, is that deepfake technology keeps improving, meaning forensic approaches may forever be one step behind the most sophisticated forms of deepfakes. </p><p>As the 2020 report noted, even if the private sector or governments create technology to identify deepfakes, they will:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"...operate more slowly than the generation of these fakes, allowing false representations to dominate the media landscape for days or even weeks. "A lie can go halfway around the world before the truth can get its shoes on," warns David Doermann, the director of the Artificial Intelligence Institute at the University of Buffalo. And if defensive methods yield results short of certainty, as many will, technology companies will be hesitant to label the likely misrepresentations as fakes."</p>
Context is everything.
The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a number of new behaviours into daily routines, like physical distancing, mask-wearing and hand sanitizing. Meanwhile, many old behaviours such as attending events, eating out and seeing friends have been put on hold.
A new study looks at how images of coffee's origins affect the perception of its premiumness and quality.
- Images can affect how people perceive the quality of a product.
- In a new study, researchers show using virtual reality that images of farms positively influence the subjects' experience of coffee.
- The results provide insights on the psychology and power of marketing.