We’ve all been to see a doctor and wondered what kind of qualifications they had, or if they even understood what you were saying. They rush you in and out, and you wonder how accurate their diagnosis is. And that’s just for small things like – is it a cold or do I have strept throat? Should they be prescribing antibiotics, or should I just wait it out? Regardless, doctors are humans, just like you and I. Which means they can and do make mistakes. I’m sure you’ve also looked up your own symptoms on Web MD and self-diagnosed yourself. I know I have. Which makes you wonder if the future of medicine lies with technology and not humans.Let me clarify what I mean by that. We are in a great time from a technology perspective. There are so many options for us to improve our lives – whether that’s through health, wellness or researchers finding ways to make our oceans cleaner. Technology is at the center of it all. That’s why, when I heard about artificial intelligence taking on the medical industry, it made me think twice. An AI system in China is reported to have beaten doctors at diagnosing brain tumors and predicting hematoma expansion. Simply said, the AI was able to identify these conditions more accurately than doctors.That’s scary, isn’t it? And not from a robot uprising kind of way, but in a misdiagnosis kind of way. If we go back to my first paragraph, doctors are humans and are bound to make mistakes. There’s no doubt about that. But to what end? What does that mean for a patient? We have to consider that the humans with the conditions need to be understood in a way that some doctors just aren’t able to. Sure, doctors are incredibly intelligent, but that doesn’t mean they’re good at their jobs. That’s not to say that all doctors have horrible bedside manner, but I think you can see where I’m going with this.As reported by Xinhua, the AI system defeated a team of 15 of China’s top doctors by a margin of two to one. The AI, BioMind, was developed by the Artificial Intelligence Research Centre for Neurological Disorders at Beijing Tiantan Hospital and is another example of the long line of the technology analyzing images. When diagnosing brain tumors, BioMind was correct 87 percent of the time, compared to 66 percent by the medical professionals. The AI also only took 15 minutes to diagnose the 225 cases, while doctors took 30.I’d like to point out that this isn’t to say that the doctors can’t make the diagnosis, but we humans carry a lot of baggage. For example, let’s say one of these doctors missed a previous diagnosis of a brain tumor. That doctor is going to bring that baggage into this diagnosis and potentially second guess themselves. That doesn’t mean they will get the diagnosis wrong. It simply means they are more cautious and they’ve learned from their past mistakes. And that’s what makes humans beautiful.Conversely, that’s the same thing that makes artificial intelligence just as beautiful. It doesn’t bring those past experiences into its decision. It simply sees the facts and makes a determination based on those. When it comes to decision making, I’m not sure that it’s better or worse. Typically, it’s best to make decisions based on facts alone, but is that always possible? Especially when someone’s life is on the line? I’m going to leave you with that question because I’m not really sure where I land on this one.
Will artificial intelligence replace doctors in the future? No, it's not the robot uprising, but it could mean the difference between life and death.