Let’s say you noticed a skin discoloration on the back of your hand and wondered if it might be cancerous. You would normally visit your general practitioner, who would then decide whether a test needed to be ordered and, ultimately, whether a referral to a specialist was warranted. What if you could go to a centre with AI technology and specially-programmed with optical technologies that enabled them to scan such skin conditions and give instant feedback?
This degree of AI technology is now achievable. While the development of such technologies may seem prohibitively-expensive, utilizing such programs, once developed, could generate great savings for both governments and citizens in the long run, for reasons similar to the reasons that mechanized production is more cost-effective than having everything done by the human hand. For one thing, this technology might reduce a dual or multi-step process to a one or two-step process.
Remote-controlled surgery has now been proven possible under certain circumstances, which greatly reduces the amounts of radiation that doctors have to be exposed to, as well as the risks related to doctors becoming exhausted and unable to concentrate while performing long procedures. Remote-controlled surgery can also facilitate wonderful new realities in which everyone, in every location, has access to the talents of world-renowned specialists, regardless of their financial or physical ability to travel.
In the not-too-distant future, AI technology is likely to evolve to a place where the remote control is no longer necessary, and robots will be performing many surgeries and other procedures with very little human assistance. Surgeries that used to require a large incision may be performable with only one small incision, minimizing infection risks for patients as well as recovery times.
As a low-income, uninsured wife and mom, I feel that I have a unique perspective when it comes to imagining the possible ways whereby our investment in artificial intelligence today can lead to a future in which higher-quality health care continues to become increasingly-available to all people everywhere.
Take my husband’s situation: he has some chronic health conditions, including type II diabetes, and up until recently, he was also working full time to support us. People in his situation often need a lot more rest than the average person does to keep functioning at work, and my husband often felt like he was forced to put off getting his prescriptions renewed, or getting the periodic tests he needed because he had used up all his personal days and had no more time left for routine doctor visits.
What if most of the routine tests required for monitoring various health conditions could be carried out by AI technology, in testing centres that were open 24/7, staffed by a fraction of the people that are currently required to carry out such services? No, this wouldn’t solve all the world’s health care problems, but it would certainly be a promising start.