Robots that perform surgery and websites that prescribes drugs. Phones that can scan your brain, deliver babies and treat heart attacks. It might sound like pleasant fiction, but in the future these all might be as commonplace as using a cell phone.
A lot of people might not realize it, but in fact artificial intelligence is already being used in medicine today.
The Different Ways AI is being used in Medicine
- In a children’s hospital in Boston, AI is being used to identify victims of abuse. The software program works by looking at a patient’s history. If there are certain red flags, like repeated injuries combined with depression, the system raises an alert. The program is said to identify patients up to 6 years earlier than a human doctor would have.
- On the web, a Russian doctor has launched a website, “Doctor Robot”. It treats patients based on their answers to a questionnaire. Doctor Robot is live but still evolving and even boasts an online pharmacy- no prior prescriptions needed.
- The latest in the works now is a “doctor” attached to a phone. A patient might for example live in a remote area with the nearest doctor 50 miles away. If the patient breaks out in blisters, they can take photos of their rash with the phone. Comparing the photo with others in its database, the phone might then diagnose, say, chicken pox and a suitable treatment.
Since AI has started being used in medicine, it’s only bound to become more common as time goes on. When it becomes mainstream, AI doctors are going to change medicine. Here are the ways how:
Of course, computers are not perfect. And for anyone who has ever had to reboot their PC, there is a natural distrust in the abilities of a non-human. But the fact is that human doctors make a lot of mistakes themselves. In 2004, the rate of misdiagnosis for fatal diseases was 20%, a number which had not changed for 100 years. AI Doctors actually have the potential to be more accurate than human doctors. This is because they draw on a plethora of information that human doctors may not always remember or have access to.
2. Cost and Efficiency
AI doctors can keep going where human doctors have to stop. No matter how brilliant the doctor, human doctors have to rest, eat, and sometimes get sick. AI doctors can work long hours without getting fatigued or losing mental alertness. This has the potential to cut costs as well.
Unlike human doctors, AI doctors have the potential to be mass-produced like cans of soup in a factory. This could potentially solve the doctor shortage. Also, like in the phone doctor example above, it could solve the problem of patients living in remote areas. The fact that AI doctors are walking databases of knowledge which can be easily reproduced can also have implications for how medical students train. Instead of having to be experts in everything, doctors might start to use AI devices like calculators. They could use them to crunch data, leaving them free to do the human thinking and deciding.
In short, AI doctors could revolutionize medicine by being more accurate, cheaper and more efficient than human doctors. They will also be able to reach more people. So we might end up living longer, healthier lives. When that happens, we just might have another health focus to shift to: population control.
This Article is written by Lena Butler, contributor of Health & Drug Testing Information Center.