One of the biggest hopes on our collective wish list about artificial intelligence are the advances we’re going to make in medicine. Worldwide, medicine is 10% of the world economy and obviously there are business opportunities a plenty. But beyond that, our bodies behave a whole lot like technology. We have eyes that can sense, and a nose that can smell, fingers that touch, and joints, and limbs–and so when our bodies start to falter or break, it’s natural that we turn to technology to fix them. AI is going to make a big impact on medicine, that is not news. But I think what’s interesting is to think about exactly how that will happen.
No doctor, of course, no human doctor can keep up with all the advances in medical science, especially since a good portion of published papers are only read by the peer reviewers and the editors of the publications in which they appear. There are, after all, 7000 scientific papers published every day. That is the sort of situation where AI shines. Second, there is probably enough medical data already collected to cure or treat any number of conditions. But no human has ever connected the various dots. Expect to see AI breakthroughs in the form of new protocols and treatments.
And finally, even with the relatively modern health system in the US, the third highest cause of death is medical error. In fact, fully 10% of all deaths in the US are from medical error. Sponges get left in patients so frequently that they are now treated with a substance so they show up on x-rays. AI can help medical technicians avoid all these mistakes. And in a few cases, AI is able to customize medicines to your personal genome, and can lower medical costs dramatically by reducing the number of people involved in medical diagnosis and treatment.