Artificial Intelligence and Medicine
What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
It is the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages. For the purpose of this article (Artificial Intelligence and Medicine), we will classify AI into two: General Artificial Intelligence and Narrow Artificial Intelligence.
General Artificial Intelligence: Teaching computers to do everything that humans can do and perhaps those that humans cannot do.
Narrow Artificial Intelligence: The AI that is applied in different fields such as Medicine, eCommerce, Cybersecurity, Logistics and supply etc. In this case, machines are thought to perform narrow tasks that humans can do.
What Is Artificial Intelligence In Medicine ?
Artificial intelligence in medicine is simply the use of computer algorithms (automated processes) in providing care for patients. Artificial Intelligence can aid doctors and other healthcare providers in discharging their duties more effectively and with much higher precision. Note that these machines can not replace the health care providers because they’re programmed to work in a predetermined steps and they lack that ability to interact with each patient and initiate diagnosis from the data obtained from the history.
The empathy and desire to care for one another which gave birth to medicine is a human element that can not be reproduced by algorithms (machines). Also researches by doctors are currently going on to improve the quality of healthcare. Though there’s a lot of advancement in the health system especially in rich countries, many things are still not clearly defined. These require human efforts and intelligence. Machines can not make these unknown entities known but they can make the task easier and faster for healthcare providers if well structured.
The summary of the above argument is that doctors and other healthcare providers will still be indispensable to patients no matter how advanced these machines are. Artificial intelligence will be very much helpful in medicine, however, it will result in inequalities in accessing health care. It will increase the cost of healthcare and some individuals in resource rich countries may not be able to afford it and most, if not all, the resource poor countries will not be able to acquire such machines.
We are going to pick and discuss some areas in medicine and how artificial intelligence can be applied in them.
This is a very important aspect of medicine that cut across all other fields. The expertise of a pathologist is needed to make diagnosis in many diseases. For example, cancer. Cancer is a disease that can affect most if not all parts of the human body. For diagnosis of cancer to be made, a tissue taken out of the affect side is taken to the pathology laboratory where it undergoes all the necessary processes and the final result interpreted by a pathologist before a report is issued out to the department that sent the sample.
If an algorithm that is capable of automatically detecting cancer is in place, there would be no need to waste time and resources carrying out these processes to make a diagnosis of cancer. Also, these algorithms are capable of interpreting pathology images (slides) with much higher precision than humans. This will afford the pathologists the time to focus on other high level intellectual tasks in synthesizing diagnostic information.
This is another important field in medicine that incorporates other fields. Reading and interpreting films can be tedious and time consuming. Having an algorithm that can automatically read these films and interpret it will make the work less demanding and faster. It will also increase precision. With these algorithms, it will be possible to diagnose diseases even before they occur.
Though there are chances of false positive. Artificial intelligence has so much potential in this field. In the nearest future, diseases like brain tumors, arthritis, cancers etc. can be diagnosed early enough. This will enable physicians to initiate treatment immediately to prevent the symptoms from occurring. It will also increase the chances of complete cure.
There are different units in surgery with each performing a specific task. Surgery is a procedure that requires enormous amount of skills and experience. It takes surgeons years to acquire these expertise. However, it is possible to design a machine that can perform specific surgeries such as removing a well defined tumour in posterior fossa of the skull. This will reduce the work load on surgeons and improve the quality of healthcare because machines can do the job at a much higher precision than humans if well programmed.
There are many other fields in medicine where Artificial Intelligence can be applied to improve the quality of healthcare. Artificial Intelligence can also improve the quality of home medical care, But the risk of malpractice and false positives that may cause problems should also be put into consideration. Till today, diseases can’t be diagnosed until symptoms start manifesting, but with Artificial Intelligence, it will be possible to diagnose diseases even before they develop.
With appropriate treatment, diseases might be prevented from occurring. Artificial Intelligence can also reduce waste from misdiagnoses and identify novel treatment strategies using advanced data analytics. The future is quite promising. Let’s open our minds and embrace Artificial Intelligence, it is capable of changing the world not only in medicine but other fields as well.
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