In a reminder of the many ways that the climate emergency is affecting the health and wellbeing of Australians, about 200 firefighters from NSW and other states will join fire-fighting efforts in Canada.
The column this week also reports on the Voice to Parliament, threats posed by artificial intelligence and nuclear weapons, and some health reasons to ditch the stage three tax cuts.
The quotable comes from a World Health Organization statement:
Results of the review also suggest that there may be potential undesirable effects from long-term use of non-sugar sweeteners, such as an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and mortality in adults.”
Spotlight on AI
The medical and public health community have been urged to raise the alarm about the risks and threats posed by artificial intelligence (AI) and to advocate for speedy regulation “if we are to avoid the various harmful and potentially catastrophic consequences of AI-enhanced technologies being developed and used without adequate safeguards and regulation”.
In an article published in BMJ Global Health, ‘Threats by artificial intelligence to human health and human existence’, the authors say most of the health literature on AI is biased towards its potential benefits, and discussions about its potential harms tend to focus on its misapplication in clinical settings.
“We identify how artificial intelligence could harm human health via its impacts on the social and upstream determinants of health through: the control and manipulation of people, use of lethal autonomous weapons and the effects on work and employment. We then highlight how self-improving artificial general intelligence could threaten humanity itself.
Effective regulation of the development and use of artificial intelligence is needed to avoid harm. Until such effective regulation is in place, a moratorium on the development of self-improving artificial general intelligence should be instituted.”
The WHO’s new guideline on non-sugar sweeteners (NSS) recommends against the use of NSS to control body weight or reduce the risk of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).
The recommendation is based on the findings of a systematic review of the available evidence which suggests that use of NSS does not confer any long-term benefit in reducing body fat in adults or children. Results of the review also suggest that there may be potential undesirable effects from long-term use of NSS, such as an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and mortality in adults.
“Replacing free sugars with NSS does not help with weight control in the long term. People need to consider other ways to reduce free sugars intake, such as consuming food with naturally occurring sugars, like fruit, or unsweetened food and beverages,” says Francesco Branca, WHO Director for Nutrition and Food Safety.
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