Thanks to two wars and some questionable foreign policy, America hasn't always been the most effective ambassador for democracy. Leave it to an emerging nation to make democracy fun again.
How we can create equity for all communities?
Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.
Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.
Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)
This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.
To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.
This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.
After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”
“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”
Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).
As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.
Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.
“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”
"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/
The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.
This article originally appeared on 04.25.22
A new trend in treasure hunting called magnet fishing has blown up over the past two years, evidenced by an explosion of YouTube channels covering the hobby. Magnet fishing is a pretty simple activity. Hobbyists attach high-powered magnets to strong ropes, drop them into waterways and see what they attract.
The hobby has caught the attention of law enforcement and government agencies because urban waterways are a popular place for criminals to drop weapons and stolen items after committing a crime. In 2019, a magnet fisherman in Michigan pulled up an antique World War I mortar grenade and the bomb squad had to be called out to investigate.
Fifteen-year-old George Tindale and his dad, Kevin, 52, of Grantham, Lincolnshire in the U.K., made an incredible find earlier this month when they used two magnets to pull up a safe that had been submerged in the River Witham.
George has a popular magnet fishing YouTube channel called “Magnetic G.”
After the father-and-son duo pulled the safe out of the murky depths, they cracked it open with a crowbar and found about $2,500 Australian dollars (US$1,800), a shotgun certificate and credit cards that expired in 2004. The Tindales used the name found on the cards to find the safe’s owner, Rob Everett.
Everett’s safe was stolen during an office robbery in 2000 and then dumped into the river. “I remember at the time, they smashed into a cabinet to get to the safe,” Everett said, according to The Daily Mail. “I was just upset that there was a nice pen on my desk, a Montblanc that was never recovered.”
The safe was stolen in the year 2000 \n\n#magnetfishinghttps://www.granthamjournal.co.uk/news/teenager-finds-safe-containing-thousands-of-dollars-9250637/\u00a0\u2026— Grantham Journal (@Grantham Journal) 1650615191
The robber, who was a teenage boy, was apprehended soon after the crime because he left behind a cap with his name stitched inside.
The father and son met up with Everett to return his stolen money and the businessman gave George a small reward for his honesty. He also offered him an internship because of the math skills he displayed in the YouTube video when he counted the Australian dollars. “What’s good about it is, I run a wealth management company and… I’d love him to work for us," Everett said.
Although the safe saga began with a robbery 22 years ago, its conclusion has left Everett with more faith in humanity.
“I was just amazed that they’d been able to track me down,” he said. “There are some really nice and good people in this world. They could have kept the money, they could have said they attempted to get hold of me.”
“There’s a big lesson there. It teaches George that doing good and being honest and giving back is actually more rewarding than taking,” Everett added.
Treasure hunting isn’t the only allure of the hobby for George. His mother says the hobby has taught him a lot about water pollution and its effects on local wildlife. “George is very environmentally conscious. He always has been since primary school,” she said. “When he first started to do this, he was after treasure. Everything ends up in the rivers and canals.”
Everyone deserves to cast a ballot.
Historically, people who cannot read and write have faced discrimination in the voting booths of America. Before the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, literacy tests were enacted as a way of disqualifying immigrants and the poor, who had less education, from casting a ballot. In the south, they were used to prevent Black people from registering to vote.
According to ProPublica, in 2022, around 48 million people in the United States struggle to read, about a fifth of the adult population. An analysis of voter turnout has found that in countries with lower literacy rates, voter turnout was lower as well.
“How the system is set up, it disenfranchises people,” voting rights advocate Olivia Coley-Pearson told ProPublica. Coley-Pearson is a city commissioner in Douglas, the county seat of Coffee County, Georgia. “It’s by design, I believe, because they want to maintain that power and that control.”
\u201cOlivia Coley-Pearson offered help to voters who struggle to read. For taking on one of America\u2019s oldest forms of voter suppression, she got threats, a trip to jail and a reminder of the nation\u2019s long legacy of weaponizing literacy. https://t.co/N9s6PdJPyv\u201d— ProPublica (@ProPublica) 1663675146
Recent laws passed in the south have made it more difficult for people to assist those who have difficulty reading at the voting booth. In 2021, Georgia passed a law that limits who can return or touch a completed ballot. Florida has made it more difficult for volunteers to ask voters if they need assistance and Texas passed a law prohibiting voters’ assistants from answering questions or paraphrasing complicated language on the ballot.
Fortunately, portions of the Texas law have been struck down.
No one knows firsthand how hard it is for people with difficulty reading to vote in the south more than Coley-Pearson. She’s been charged twice in Coffee County for trying to help people vote. "We're a rural community, there are racial issues, educational issues, employment issues,” she told ProPublica.
"Most of the people who have trouble reading, writing and understanding, they're not going to go vote. If you have a low voter turnout, that's some of the reason why," she told ProPublica.
In 2012, the chairman of Coffee County’s board of elections filed a complaint against Coley-Pearson and three other residents, alleging that they’d assisted voters who didn’t legally qualify for help.
“If someone asks me for help, I feel an obligation to try to assist if I could,” she testified at a 2016 hearing. “Sometimes things are done to try to maybe dis-encourage, or whatever, other people from voting, and I don’t feel like that is fair.”
A local district attorney's office charged her with two felonies for signing a form that gave a false reason for why a voter needed assistance and for improperly assisting a voter. According to BuzzFeed News, there were no allegations that Coley-Pearson had told anyone who to vote for or pressed any buttons on the voting machine for those she assisted.
“This is supposed to cause fear in those who would dare stand up for themselves,” Nefertara Clark, Coley-Pearson’s attorney, said, according to BuzzFeed News.
After six years of having the felony charges hanging over her, in 2018, the trial ended in a hung jury. She was tried again and the new jury acquitted her of all charges. “Next to losing my son, the most horrible thing I’ve experienced in my life,” Coley-Pearson told 11 Alive News.
In October 2020, while assisting someone with low literacy skills vote in the presidential election, she was barred from returning to the polls for allegedly touching a voting machine. Coley-Pearson said she never touched the machine.
The county’s election supervisor, Misty Martin, called the police on Coley-Pearson and they issued a trespass warning barring her from the polls indefinitely. Later that morning, when she returned with another voter, she was arrested and charged with trespassing.
A state judge dropped the charge earlier this year if Coley-Pearson agreed to follow election law. “There was no evidence of any crime here,” Coley-Pearson told ProPublica. “It feels like you’re fighting a losing battle.”
Even though Coley-Pearson has been victorious in court, her supporters tell her they're now afraid to vote because of her struggles. Unfortunately, these are the people who need their voices heard the most. "I say, 'That's exactly why you need to vote so we can stop stuff like that,'" she told ProPublica.
A much-needed reminder.
If you've ever stayed in a hotel, you know there's an additional lock you can latch as an added layer of protection. But sometimes weird things happen that make us rethink the comfort and security many of us take for granted. TikTok user TayBeepBoop had a disturbing experience when a hotel front desk person attempted to enter her room while she was inside. Some readers may find the story to be unsettling but it's a powerful reminder of exactly why situational awareness and caution are so important in today's world.
Tay, obviously frightened, uploaded clips from the event on her TikTok page, which has since garnered 6 million views. In the video, which is mostly the floor, door and bed, you can hear the man outside of her room knocking loudly asking to be let inside.
Tay asks the man repeatedly why he attempted to walk into her room using the hotel key to which the man explains there's a problem with the woman's car. There's only one problem. Tay doesn't own a car and is only in town on business where she did not rent a car to get around town, relying only on other modes of transportation. So, what the heck was the man doing at her door?
Replying to @dani klarić this was a really long and hard video to make, it was sort of traumatizing and I’m kind of freaked out about staying anywhere now and I dont leave my house much anymore tbh because I already was dealing with PTSD about my safety. I’m OKAY which is why im able to go through this footage now. I genuinely don’t want anything to do with this hotel, this is a PSA to stay safe and cautious. I don’t want people to go after this worker because I still don’t know what his intentions were and he could have just been trying to do his job
Tay was staying at the hotel alone and made sure to latch the additional lock on her hotel room door, which is the only thing that prevented this hotel staff member from getting into her room. Since the situation was so scary and went on for quite some time according to her video, she called friends on FaceTime to be a witness and help comfort her. Eventually the man leaves after repeated attempts to get the scared woman to open the door and Tay was able to get a male business partner to escort her safely to another hotel.
But the comments were filled with stories from women who have had similar experiences. Many people explained the danger of admitting you're alone upon check-in, while other commenters sympathized with the woman not thinking to call the police right away. With people traveling more as COVID-19 restrictions subside, there could be a greater chance for things like this happening so it's best to be prepared and err on the side of caution when traveling alone.
Women on the Road has several tips for hotel safety including making sure your door lock works, putting a chair under the handle of the door or buying a rubber door stop. The site also highlights the importance of locking your windows if they open and not opening the door for people you don't know.
Another site geared towards safety is Solo Female Traveler and it recommends getting a floor higher in the hotel to make it more of a hassle for someone from outside to break in. It, too, reiterates the importance of locking the additional lock in the hotel room while you're inside.
While it's statistically unlikely you'll be a victim of a hotel robbery or whatever was happening with Tay, her experience is a reminder to research hotels and practice caution when traveling. Always, always, lock the deadbolt or chain.