Intelligence Through Artificial Eyes
“Cutting edge technology better not cut out the humanity in a healing touch.”
The patient was understandably nervous, but perhaps even a tad bit excited – after all he was one of the first human beings to be operated on by the ‘da Vinci’ and ‘McSleepy’. Don’t be fooled by the names because these recently wired doctors are in fact pioneers of artificially intelligent healers. This was almost a decade ago in Montreal, and today, robotics is paving their way into the medical field faster than ever all across the world.
In a country like India where there is a staggeringly large population, there are simply not enough doctors to cater the needs of the society, especially in the rural regions. Not many doctors are willing to risk their security by working in the countryside due to the increased possibility of errors that are caused due to lack of infrastructure. But with the advent of artificial intelligence, this problem can be easily countered – it decreases human mistakes by making diagnostics more accurate and faster. From the grainy images of a magnifying glass that were used a couple of centuries ago to the top notch microscopes that allow us to see molecular level structures, medical imaging has come a long way, and artificial intelligence just takes this a step further and allows easy analyzing available to a larger population base.
The highly advanced algorithms of a ‘thinking computer’ can not only constantly betters itself by learning from previous patients, but also combines the knowledge of new medical research and latest treatment techniques which is an incredibly time challenging and daunting task for a normal doctor. Artificial intelligence reduces the cost of diagnosing by maintaining the medical records of a patient such that they can be accessed over a wider area and time without having to unnecessarily repeating resources on information that is already available and well organized. It has an excellent use in geriatric patients and reduces their dependence on medical assistance.
Although artificial intelligence has transformed the prospects of the medical field, there are several drawbacks associated with this cutting edge technology. While the technology in theory seems like a very apt solution to problems in the medical field, it will still take many years for robotics to firmly root itself in this industry – currently, it is a costly luxury that can only be afforded by a few elite hospitals. Until it reaches every corner of the globe, it is difficult to understand what kind of impact it could have on the population at large. But even before we can introduce ‘think bots’ into healing, we must ensure that they are absolutely safe. Statistics show that malfunctioning and injury to the robot is the most common reason for failure of surgery assisted by artificial intelligence. In order to eradicate this faultiness, the technology invested in this must be improved. In addition, services to repair and maintain this equipment should be made more easily available. As of now, this equipment has not been fine tuned to perfect highly invasive surgery and its use has been restricted to only certain specializations like gynecology and general operations and diagnostics.
Moreover, India is a nation that has been ruled by customs, traditions, and superstitions for many centuries. Although much hi-tech advancements have been made in the recent times, it will definitely take time for the people to accept that they are being operated on by robots – only time and successful procedures can break through the skeptical stereotypes of the public.
Careers pathways in modern times are constantly being interlinked, and in order to be successful, doctors must rise above the competition by acquiring new skills to supplement their clinical practice. Doctors need not fear unemployment with the advent of artificial intelligence as robotics is merely a tool to enhance and assist their work. In fact, they should breathe a sigh of relief – AI allowed them to work more quickly, efficiently, and reduces the burden of repetitive and monotonous work such that they can reach out to a larger number of patients.
Artificial intelligence stands as proof to mankind’s ability to turn the impossible in to a reality. Robots have made themselves a fixture in so many industries and factories across the world. They bring the word ‘efficiency’ a whole new definition. If we can maximize the potential of robots to their full extent, we can really make access to quality medical services a reality for all sections of society. However, as human life hangs in the balance, it is important that we consider the negative implications of inviting artificial intelligence into the medical profession. An extraordinary physician’s ability does not lay in large tomes and textbooks or his skill to maneuver a scalpel – it lies in his ensuring smiles, compassionate touch, and warm words of reassurance. No hunk of metal, wires, and computer programming can simulate the same response as that of a medical practitioner.