“Is Switzerland a perfect location to begin AI?” This was a question asked at the recent AIMed Breakfast Briefing took place in Switzerland (i.e., you may revisit the session here). Speakers believe so, as explained by Dr. Christian B. Westermann, Partner & Leader of the Data & Analytics team, PwC Switzerland, the country is generally strong in engineering and precision; they are experienced in introducing new medical devices into the market, so supporting other innovations is not something they are strange of. 

Besides, its higher education system is readily producing artificial intelligence (AI) and related new technologies talents required by the market and conducts related research. The largely English-speaking community is also a plus for any foreign investments. Coupled with the fact that Switzerland is a small country but also the venue for many international headquarters, this brings people closer together and things can be done quicker, fuelling the overall AI development. 

Professor Roland Wiest, Professor of Advanced Neuroimaging, University Hospital Bern agreed, he said Switzerland has an excellent healthcare system which allows medical professionals to introduce cutting-edge technologies. The proximity between experts also makes AI development more transparent and efficient. 

A missing framework 

Nevertheless, there is still a missing framework to ensure the use of AI is ethical and patients’ privacy and data are safeguarded. As Professor Wiest pointed out, AI is bringing up a new question: results produced by these algorithms are likely to be the new benchmark in the near future, so do we still value expert knowledge especially when we are unsure whether they can truly bring a difference to the patients. 

At the same time, as we are transforming the present education system to cater to the vibrancy of AI, will physicians who are not certified or officially train still be able to use AI legally? Dr. Ursula Widmer, Partner, Widmer & Partners said the legal and ethical awareness is equally crucial as compared to certifications. AI needs to be fed with a lot of data, but some companies or physicians feel that it is negligible whether patients give their consent for the use of their data. Likewise, there is often no conscientious effort to ensure the data will not be traced back to the individual patient.  

For example, Dr. Widmer knew of a startup which focuses on dental images; using AI to assist dentists in deciding how a person may look with new teeth or the degree of teeth bleaching and so on. Without prior patient consent and removal of facial and dental features so that patients will not be identified individually, the company sent all patients data via Google back to Europe to train their algorithm. The startup pays no special attention to privacy nor consent.

Discussion shall continue

Dr. Christian B. Westermann, Partner & Leader of the Data & Analytics team, PwC Switzerland added even when the algorithm is fully developed, it is still not bulletproof. After all, there are ways to “play against” these algorithms such as pasting stickers over a stop signal on the road, so a driverless car won’t recognize or misread it as a speed limit signal.  

As such, even Switzerland is able to provide one of the best environments in the world to endorse AI and new technology developments, sustainability remains a huge challenge. With that, the four experts will continue their discussion this September at AIMed Europe 2019 and highlight what truly constitutes a global AI standard.  

Session Focus: Transforming Switzerland’s healthcare system – developing a global standard for AI in medicine

When: Tuesday, September 17th 2019 (16:15 – 17:15) 

A session to examine the recent applications of AI in medicine across Switzerland’s healthcare system as it advances to develop a global standard in the domains of education, ethics, finance, transparency, and trust. 

Attendees will gain the following knowledge:

Understand Switzerland’s views on AI; the existing infrastructure and resources that enable various sectors to utilize the technology.

Learn about the challenges in terms of data sharing, education, and policy as explained by medical, business, legal, and technology experts. 

Listen out for the latest developments and opportunities; what are some of the upcoming trends to look out for. 

Benefit from the active exchanges of opinions and questioning time catered to the audience to find out more. 


Dr. Fried-Michael Dahlweid, Chief Technology & Innovation Officer, University Hospital Bern 


Professor Roland Wiest, Professor of Advanced Neuro-imaging, University Hospital Bern 

Dr. Ursula Widmer, Partner, Widmer & Partners 

Dr. Christian B. Westermann, Partner & Leader of the Data & Analytics team, PwC Switzerland 

Do not miss this event. Book now on AIMed Europe 2019 official site, or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram to check out the latest promotion and delegate discount. A more detailed AIMed Europe 2019 agenda can be found here.

Author Bio
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Hazel Tang

A science writer with data background and an interest in the current affair, culture, and arts; a no-med from an (almost) all-med family. Follow on Twitter.