Jun 10, 2018

How AI is Affecting the Medical Field

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is currently one of the hottest trends in the world. AI can be found across industries, and in almost everything we use or create that has a tech element. AI is, to put it simply, the simulation of intelligence processes by machines – particularly computer systems. However, this hot technology is constantly evolving, and poses several risks to the world as we know it.

What are the risks that come with AI?

AI is taking over the tech world, and is being incorporated in many tools, systems, and software we use every day. However, many people are becoming skeptical and imploring that the tech industry takes a closer look at AI and the risks it poses. Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and Tesla in Silicon Valley, is one of the biggest neigh-sayers when it comes to AI.

Musk seems to believe that AI poses the startling question of whether machines will, eventually, take over the world. By programming human-like technology into almost everything we use, it’s opening the door to some unsettling possibilities. Musk, in particular, is concerned that something “evil” will be created entirely accidentally.

“We’re already cyborgs,” he says in an interview with Vanity Fair. “Your phone and your computer are extensions of you, but the interface is through finger movements or speech, which are very slow.”

Musk believes that AI is only a few years away from being able to partially incorporate with our brains – whether that’s through medical devices or personal technology. And that thought is, indeed, terrifying when you think of the potential ramifications.

How can AI improve or impact the medical field?

Although creators and innovators the world over will need to be cautious as they continue to build AI tools that directly impact the lives of people, AI isn’t all doom-and-gloom. In fact, it is having a significantly positive impact on the medical field. As of now, AI in the medical field is built as an assist to human doctors and nurse practitioners.

It allows for a thorough fact-gathering and analysis for more accurate diagnostics. It’s also creating systems that reduce the possibility for human error – ensuring appropriate and safe care is always being given by human doctors and nurse practitioners to patients. AI also opens up the opportunity for cost-efficient medical care. By reducing the total number of human employees that hospitals, doctors, and medical spaces need to pay to do admin work, the medical field is able to refocus their budget toward specialists and incredible medical professionals who are saving lives every day.

Finally, AI is helping to create a safer, more precise operating room. With minimally invasive surgeries becoming increasingly necessary as we are increasingly hard on our bodies, surgical robots are able to provide assistance in making precise, small incisions and surgical maneuvers. This can help to reduce patient pain, simplify and speed up medical processes, and help medical teams to complete minimally invasive surgeries quickly and correctly so they can move a patient from surgery to recovery efficiently. This helps doctors and medical teams perform faster, better surgical procedures on every level – which means more patients can be treated in the same time span.

How far are we from a point when we have a robo-doctor?

Scientists are already working to combine AI with robotics. In fact, researchers in Texas have long been working on a robot that has a mind of its own. Although this may seem like some kind of science fiction movie come to life, it’s not surprising. The tech industry’s obsession with AI has sped up many researchers’ quest to incorporate it in new, exciting ways.

But how far are we from having robo-doctors? The answer might surprise you. Right now, most robots are built with simple AI. They’re programmed to do nothing more than administrative tasks. However, the fact that some robotic technology has been programmed with AI within the medical space already, opens up the possibility that we’ll be seeing “robo-doctors” in the medical arena sooner than we think.

In fact – some healthcare robots in 2017 were built with artificial intelligence that allowed them to perform domestic nurse functions like reminding you to take medication, or coaching patients through challenges associated with illness. So – we may be looking at robo-doctors taking over smaller medical tasks or working alongside human doctors sometime in the near future.

Will machines truly take over?

It’s impossible to look into the future and know what’s going to happen. However, most people believe that because machines won’t always “get it right” and because of obvious ethical concerns, people will need to stay connected to most processes – particularly in the medical field. However, we can expect to see AI being incorporated into our systems – including medical services – in new and exciting ways.

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