The other month I had the pleasure of attending a fascinating debate at the University of Melbourne. Between the sprightful discussion, free wine and food, I tried to grapple the magnitude of potential that is ‘AI in Healthcare.’ In the spirit of being randomly assigned to a team, I have attempted to articulate my points for both the affirmative and the negative below.
For the purpose of this debate, I define Artificial Intelligence (AI) as the capability for machines to complete tasks in a way that replicates human intelligence, underscored by machine learning. This technology also encompasses the realms of natural language processing, robotic process automation (RPA), computer vision and digital twins.
Healthcare is one of the most mature industries in the market. The act of caring for one another, and having specialists who master the art of healing has been around since the ancient Greeks. A physician’s oath commits medical practitioners to the protection of their patients and confidentiality. However, the development and presence of AI in the healthcare system is creating a threat to that promise. At this time, the risks of AI in healthcare outweigh the benefits. Healthcare for this debate excludes pharmaceutical and insurance. It encompasses the immediate practitioner-patient interaction and care within hospitals, doctor offices, nursing homes and ambulatory services.
My arguments are as follows:
Technology doesn’t hurt people, people hurt people. AI is an incredible technology with the potential to take the robot out of the human. When AI works alongside human intelligence, a new collective intelligence is unleashed, enabling humans to be more innovative and empathetic. AI has the potential to absolutely transform our healthcare industry, and in some ways, it already is – the risks do not outweigh the benefits.4
At this point in the debate, I’m starting to feel the pressure as I plan for the rebuttal. The benefits of AI in healthcare are astronomic, and we are yet to even scratch the surface of what’s possible – but are we prepared to appropriately manage the risks? Watch this space.