Artificial Intelligence is the Next Medical Breakthrough

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medby Angela Guess

Jessica Hall recently wrote in Extreme Tech, “Over the last few decades, medical research has shifted from treating transient illnesses to curing long-term disease. This work, which built on the efforts of men like Lister, Pasteur, and Salk, has been slow and difficult, with many promising drugs and treatments ultimately failing their clinical trials. The heyday of antibiotics is waning, but we still have designs on eradicating disease. What’s next? I think it’s artificial intelligence. AI stands poised to act as a force multiplier across every field of medicine, because rather than being useful against one kind of ailment – like antibiotics or radiation – AI can work alongside humans to make better decisions in the day-to-day, regardless of what the use case might be.”

Hall goes on, “In the same way that antimicrobial agents are the corollary and companion of germ theory, there’s every reason to believe that AI is what will enable us to apply our knowledge of “omics” (genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, etc) to human health. We’ve started to interact directly with the information contained in the genome, so it stands to reason that the next big leap will have to deal with information processing.”

She continues, “Multivariate analysis is by far the greatest strength of AI, because it allows the kind of contextual decision-making intelligence used in systems like the human mind, while also drawing from the eidetic memory of a hard disk. No parsing through the emotions is required, and there are no attentional omissions. AI doesn’t need sleep, and doesn’t get fatigued after focusing on one topic for too long. At the same time, AI has the benefit of massively parallel processing. The ability to handle huge volumes of data is of increasing value, and AI can drink from the firehose. With enough memory and processing power, a medical AI could hold a whole family tree’s worth of medical records in context, scour databases for pertinent diagnostic information, and call up banks of medical and social resources – all at the same time.”

Read more here.

Photo credit: Flickr/ US Army Africa

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