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Machine Interventions In Healthcare: Bane Or Boon?

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There is hardly any doubt left in people’s mind regarding the future of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its unimaginable potential. It is almost certain that in few years it will revolutionize every aspect of our life, including healthcare.

Just this year Artificial Intelligence scientist Sebastian Thrun and his colleagues at Stanford University demonstrated that a “deep learning” algorithm was capable enough to diagnose potentially cancerous skin lesions as accurately as a board certified dermatologist. This finding was part of a stream of reports submitted this year offering us an early glimpse into a new area where software could diagnose diseases as accurately if not more as a qualified doctor. AI can definitely guide healthcare professionals in diagnosis of diseases if not compete with them.

Although many people have their fears and doubts regarding the idea of AI taking over the world, Stephen Hawking one of the brilliant minds of our time even says that the development of full artificial intelligence could pose a great risk on the existence of human race. In my opinion if humanity prepares itself well enough, AI will prove to be the next successful area of cooperation between humans and machines.

If you ask me about the impact it can have on healthcare, I would say that it could completely redesign our current healthcare system for the better. It can guide medical professionals in designing treatment plans and finding best suited methods for every patient. It will also assist our healthcare professionals in repetitive, monotonous jobs so that they can concentrate on their actual tasks.

Some of the major entrepreneurs in the world have already realized the huge transformative and financial potential of medical AI. According to researchers at Frost and Sullivan AI systems would generate $6.7 billion in global revenue from healthcare by 2021.

In this age of Big Data, it is not very difficult to understand the importance of patients’ data. Seeing this as an opportunity major tech giants like Google, IBM and others have started data mining of patients’ data.

Some of the major projects going around the world related to application of AI in healthcare are Google DeepMind Health, IBM Watson Paths, Sentrian, Butterfly Network etc. If you have got time, please read about these in detail on the internet. Beware: It might blow your mind.

In my opinion, the purpose of AI should be to magnify human ability. We shouldn’t be threatened. The following instances will help you better understand my opinion on the impact of AI.

Let us take a simple example of industrial farming; did it eliminate some form of farms? Yes, but it also amplified our capability to produce agricultural goods.  If we take a technological example, when you use your cell phone you are magnifying the reach of human speech. Otherwise, can you imagine talking to your friend without the use of cellphone or related technology living in Bangalore when you yourself are in New Delhi?

We can have our discussions about the pros and cons of AI and machine learning but in my opinion, we would be best served if we could create a system where humans and AI or machines collaborate to bring about the best possible results.

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