OHai Corona 9

The impact of AI. And isolating.

You’re probably going to see some big changes here.

Why would I leave things like tracking the virus’ progress to manual methods? It’s easy enough for AI to track these things like the famous flu detector site. (Except that they charge for more meaningful AI curated data, and there are by now other sites that do much the same thing but are free.)

Medical technology now includes AI routinely for pathology where it’s ten times faster and 80% more accurate than a doctor, and is currently using AI to find a shortcut to a working SARS-cov-2 vaccine. From there it’s not too far to imagine that lab going on to produce a universal flu vaccine. Science may finally conquer the common cold because of this pandemic.

And would you let an AI diagnose and manage your health? Maybe a year ago the answer would have been concern and even consternation at speaking to a disembodies voice over the phone, but now, we’re already seeing a huge spike in the number of medical practices using telephone consults (‘telehealth consultations’) rather than asking patients to present in person. And patients are just – speaking to a disembodied voice over the phone…

A year ago – would you have considered a phone consultation to be a ‘real’ consultation? I’d guess most people are going to answer “No” to that. A year ago – would any GP worth their salt have considered a phone consultation to be a ‘proper’ consultation? Again I’m guessing “No” would be the response. Now, these phone consults with a GP or specialist are already being considered a normal procedure.

With some important disadvantages – these appointments still have to be booked, and they still cost a full consultation fee. If however you begin to hand off some of the workload to an AI, a patient can ring that AI any time they need it. The cost can be charged like any other premium telephone service, or you can text your symptoms in, or enter them over the web or an app. In any case – it will be INSTANT medical triage and in some cases treatment.

Can your case be managed by the AI? Then it will be able to send your prescription straight to your chemist and let you know when it’ll be ready to pick up. It’ll be able to suggest or make appointments with specialists for clear-cut cases, schedule imaging and blood tests. It can even hand you off straight to a specialist AI right there and then. And if any medication needs to be a bit more carefully scrutinised, or a telehealth or face to face consultation with a GP or Nurse or specialist are needed, these can be booked and actioned by the AI while you’re on the phone.

(Bear in mind please that an AI recently scored better than GPs and most specialists at predicting people who would be prone to cancer and several other conditions – just from having old data and observations fed into it from a few hundred thousand anonymised case files. Give an AI a simple target and they are laser – focused.)

I’d do this in a heartbeat. Give access to my notes and data for this specific consultation only, to my anonymised data for training the AI, and bingo bongo, I have my diagnosis – “Sir, my diagnosis based on your symptoms is that you need more rest and to quit smoking. I also observe that your data suggests that you might benefit from an in-person consultation with a neurologist as you may be prone to carpal tunnel syndrome, shall I book an appointment for you with Dr A Neurologist who is in your locality?”

Don’t forget – an AI just given case histories to go on started producing accurate diagnoses that not even the GPs could, and had a far better accuracy than the GPs do. And it didn’t have the advantage of hundreds of thousands of consultations that a medical AI of the (very!) near future will have… The future for this technology looks set to bloom.

Surgical robots have already LEARNED all the best surgical approaches for common operations through the data recorded during remote operations. In simulations they consistently outperform surgeons because they know every millimetre of the body, they do not tire, they do not slip or deviate from the optimum path, and they have the experience of thousands of surgeons contributing to their knowledge base whereas most surgeons may have the experiences of a few tens of other surgeons at most.

Anaesthesiological programs already exist that can form a tight feedback loop with the patient’s vital signs and can predict fairly accurately what anaesthetic will produce what effects on a particular person, and because they can be tied to the control of the surgical robot they can react far more quickly and precisely to the patient’s changing condition than a human can.

You can already see the benefits of many simple surgeries being automated, can’t you? “The theatre auto-scrubs down and prepares for the next surgery. Appropriate autoclaved tools as required are positioned. Anaesthesia commences …” In this scenario, a couple of nurses would have spoken to the patient, prepared them (surgical gown, pre-op medication, position on table, then stood by during the operation.)

And so from the measures being used to maintain self-isolation in this pandemic may very well spring the beginnings of the classic sci-fi “medical artificial intelligence.”

Mind you having praised AI, I got this from 750words: “You’ve written something on 92% of the days this month, and have completed 750 words on 100% of the days you started. Very impressive! 18 more days to go in this month.” So – 18 days is 8% of a month?