Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Artificial Intelligence in the medical world

Each day our world becomes more and more involved in IT. It has affected so many of us in various ways and now, it is taking a step further in the medical world. Artificial intelligence is said to be, by Greg Freiherr, “humankind’s best chance for a healthier future.”

Freiherr argues, that in the past, advances in medicine were made through discoveries, but now, innovation is the key to future success. The author explains that today engineers “are working on an AI system that might uncover subtle patterns of disease in medical images, laboratory tests, and patient histories.” The goal is not to create software to replace physicians but rather to assist them.

Earlier, MYCIN, a robot specializing in AI in medicine, was created to identify bacteria that caused infections and then recommended antibiotics for the patient's treatment. MYCIN was very advanced but did not make it into clinical practices. This creation did, however, teach us how smart machines are and that they have capability to draw medical conclusions. Today, "a San Francisco startup called Enlitic has raised $2 million to develop algorithms, imbued with artificial intelligence, that leverage deep learning to find these diagnostic nuances [to assist physicians]." This practice will be called clinical decision support systems, and will help ease the relationship between man and machine. 

One of the main reasons AI can enhance the way we practice medicine is to help doctors decrease the risk of misdiagnoses. AI can access and sort through big data to help doctors see information about a patient they may have forgotten. While human doctors can become fatigued, "their artificial counterparts remain alert 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.” This partnership, between man and robot, will allow doctors to concentrate on solving medical issues while their AI assistant can organize data. The robots will study the patient, and then calculate possible outcomes for a variety of procedures before presenting the best option to the doctor. This type of analysis can help save time; help doctors to perform the best course of action, and ultimately save lives.

In my opinion, this type of innovation is very exciting and will transform the medical world. I am optimistic that with the help of artificial intelligence, lives will be saved and doctors will be more successful. The capacity  artificial intelligence has to learn and store data is extraordinary, but there are drawbacks to this type of innovation. Something to consider, however, is that with the increased success comes an increase in our population. As more people live longer, we will have to think about the economy and the environment will be affected. Most developed economies already consume resources faster than they can be regenerated and by adding more and more people to that equation, we are placing an even bigger burden on the environment. 

Jessica Grasso


1 comment:

  1. I am also a huge proponent of AI with medicine. A few years ago my grandfather had cancer in his Kidney and with the assistance of a robot, the doctors were able to complete a minimally invasive surgery, take the whole tumor out, and leave him with significantly less of an incision. I think for situations like this, AI is almost an essential component for medicine. However, when doing some more research about the topic, I realized a few points not considered in this article. For example, this eliminates many jobs within the hospitals. No longer is a doctor assisted by a PA or a nurse, or scrub nurse. Instead, the robot is there to help them reducing the need for a multitude of jobs within the hospitals. Also, as a result of fewer employees and more machines, there is a loss of human to human contact and therefore that lack of comfort. Personally, I know when my grandfather was going through his surgery my grandmother was overwhelmed that a machine would actually do his surgery. For someone like her, that human interaction and reassurance is almost as important as the success of the surgery. Finally, I worry about the event of a malfunction within the machine. If its power source quits or there is even a one second delay in the timing of something, the surgery is severely put at risk. Overall, from the personal experience that I had with AI and medicine, I would undoubtedly seek more instances like it. However, I do fear some of the potential threats using artificial intelligence poses.


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