Machine learning holds the possibility of improving racial health inequalities by compensating for human bias and structural racism. However, unanticipated racial biases may enter during model design, training, or implementation and perpetuate or worsen racial inequalities if ignored. Pre-existing racial health inequalities could be codified into medical care by machine learning without clinicians being aware. To illustrate the importance of a commitment to antiracism at all stages of machine learning, we examine machine learning in predicting severe sepsis in Black children, focusing on the impacts of structural racism that may be perpetuated by machine learning and difficult to discover. To move toward antiracist machine learning, we recommend partnering with ethicists and experts in model development, enrolling representative samples for training, including socioeconomic inputs with proximate causal associations to racial inequalities, reporting outcomes by race, and committing to equitable models that narrow inequality gaps or at least have equal benefit.
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