Blog: Are Computers the New Doctors?
With technology making leaps and bounds beyond what most humans can keep up with, the medical industry is pondering how computers and algorithms can help with making patient diagnoses. These algorithms are being used by supercomputers such as IBM’s “Watson”. Watson has the ability to search and crawl through databases with massive amounts of information in seconds, a feat no human could accomplish. Watson can diagnose and provide clinical care to patients with greater accuracy than most doctors, but does that mean we’ll replace hospitals with computer farms? Probably not. Most people seeking care are still looking for a human aspect, as people have emotional and mental needs along with their physical ones.
So Watson has access to over 80 million medical records that he can look at and learn from, is there anything wrong with this? One might be worried about potential security concerns, that this information could reach the public if Watson gets hacked or goes haywire. To them, I’d argue that this risk already exists, with or without the presence of an all-knowing medical machine. Hospitals are storing patient information on a regular basis which they protect through internal security systems. These same security systems could and would be applied over Watson, so a data breach wouldn’t necessarily be a fault of Watson, but a fault of the IT department.
Now Watson is looking at all of my private information, including that one time I broke my wrist as a kid trying to land a super cool trick on my crimson red roller blades. Should I be worried? Maybe. Right now, Watson is in his early stages. He has the ability to learn from the data he reads, and the more information he collects, the more powerful he becomes at creating diagnoses. However, the data is limited to what the humans at the governing hospitals provide to him, and information can be removed from his memory at any moment.
There’s still a lot to understand about the deep-learning field of technology, and Watson’s development is most likely just the tip of the iceberg in terms of computer capabilities. But for now I will accept our artificial intelligence deities, and revel in the fact that a robot knows more about my runny nose than I do.