An Intelligent Future

Artificial intelligence may still seem foreign to some people, but IBM is determined to make it the future of healthcare, reports ZDNet.

Since their AI Program, Watson, defeated human opponents on the game show Jeopardy!, the tech giant has funneled resources into making their supercomputer work for people, not against them. There’s both high expectations and space for it to see continued growth. In the years since IBM’s announcement, AI has been valued at as much at $600 million in 2014, and is expected to be worth $6 billion by 2021.

A shift has happened. AI is no longer an idea that needs preliminary exploration. We’ve seen what it can do by now. As Frost & Sullivan’s Venkat Rajan says, AI is moving towards commercial adaptation.

The growing demand for AI systems isn’t for novelty or the embrace of future technology for its own sake. Instead, the demand is facilitated by necessity. Doctors alone cannot keep tabs on the ever increasing body of data surrounding patients and their individual statistics, and the traditional management systems are becoming increasingly inefficient. It’s easy to see how overburdened the human mind can become with a glut of information Beyond that, error could lead to potentially life altering or life-ending consequences. AI can not only retain all of this data, but it can also use it to recommend certain treatment options. These possibilities are furthered when one considers that patients may move and change physicians. An AI system could have all of their previous health data, trends, and analysis at the ready to assist the new doctor.

IBM may be leading the AI revolution, but Google is looking towards it, too. Their healthcare system, DeepMind, has no AI component yet, but is expected to have one in the future.

Another crucial role that AI could play is in disease prevention and early detection. By analyzing a patient’s health history, lifestyle, and genetic predisposition, a system can record the optimal treatment options— be if medication or a lifestyle change.

AI could also be involved in drug development. With all of that data on hand, it could be easier to identify which population segments may be best suited for a trial, or provide some insight as to why one population sample reacted to a drug better than another one did.

AI doesn’t only need to be for doctors, it can help patients as well. You know how sometimes you go to a doctor wondering if a seemingly benign system could be a sign of something more serious? AI could help with that.

Of course, AI won’t be perfect— there are going to be underlying privacy issues and liability risks to be dealt with of course— but you should expect to see it play a role in the future.

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