Following up on my recent blog about artificial intelligence, I wanted to share some expert commentary from Science (July 7, 2017) in a paper by Jennifer Sills summarizing some of the most interesting uses of AI by both health care providers and the world of commerce:
- Robotic surgery may be ideal for helping to prevent human surgical fatigue and lead to faster recovery of patients. Nevertheless, there are often untoward issues that arise during surgeries which require expert assessment and rapid decision making. Equipping robots for all eventualities is probably impossible and in the end, impractical. Finally: who is responsible for robot error? The machine or the live surgeon?
- Using unmanned aerial vehicles to survey terrain and wildlife number is probably more precise than human observation. They become particularly valuable in tracking the nature and extent of fires, making managing fires more effective.
- A computer analysis of patented chemical reactions from 150,000 patent documents filed over a 40 year period revealed “bigger, greasier and flatter” synthesized products over that period. Unfortunately, the actual methodologies used to produce these items varied so much across investigators that program creators pointed out the need for standardized terminology and the inclusion of essential information about procedures. Until then, strict interpretation of accurate AI assisted data isn’t possible.
- Using machine learning to analyze students’ understanding of concepts based on their written answers in response to questions about the topics they were taught was touted as a way to standardize the quality of educational efforts. Almost predictably, computerized results varied about as much as human “expert” scoring. As one instructor observed, it is difficult to characterize and evaluate student comprehension of complex topics. At the very least, though, computer assessment saves faculty time.
- Using AI to predict outcome for cancer patients is an attractive idea, but as always, correctly programming the computer for accuracy in the myriad of possibilities that characterize the experience of cancer is the limiting factor: “garbage in, garbage out”. The oncology community is not ready to count AI’s usefulness in predicting precise outcomes and emphasizes the importance of patient-doctor interaction and communication in defining the elements of what determines outcome.
- The use of AI in exploring protein to protein interactions in plant life to improve survival in periods of drought is increasingly employed by biologists, apparently to an extent and with an accuracy that will make it possible to do with much fewer human laboratory biologists: a universal issue in the transitioning of human effort to AI.
- Help for close inspection of astronomers for the myriad of events that fill our stratosphere is at hand in the use of machines to point out the many intriguing objects that would benefit from more detailed scrutiny by human astrologers. The computer as a triaging machine is a useful concept.
Here’s what emerges: programming the computer completely and accurately for any given task is the first issue at hand, no matter what its intended use. Second, when AI does prove as or more accurate than human effort, we have to be ready for the humans who finds themselves redundant and begin to rethink our employment opportunities in this transitional era. The present expansion of AI in our lives is very analogous to the industrial revolution when we needed many fewer agricultural workers to grow and harvest our food and had to retrain those “left out and left over” for absolutely new,technically based jobs.
Marianne J. Legato, MD, Ph. D. (hon. c.), FACP is an internationally renowned academic, physician, author, lecturer, and pioneer in the field of gender-specific medicine. She is a Professor Emerita of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and an Adjunct Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins Medical School. Dr. Legato is also the Director of the Foundation for Gender-Specific Medicine, which she founded in 2006 as a continuation of her work with The Partnership for Gender-Specific Medicine at Columbia University. She received an honorary PhD from the University of Panama in 2015 for her work on the differences between men and women.
At its core, gender-specific medicine is the science of how normal human biology differs between men and women and how the diagnosis and treatment of disease differs as a function of gender. Dr. Legato’s discoveries and those of her colleagues have led to a personalization of medicine that assists doctors worldwide in understanding the difference in normal function of men and women and in their sex-specific experiences of the same diseases.
She began her work in gender-specific medicine by authoring the first book on women and heart disease, The Female Heart: The Truth About Women and Coronary Artery Disease, which won the Blakeslee Award of the American Heart Association in 1992. Because of this research, the cardiovascular community began to include women in clinical trials affirming the fact that the risk factors, symptoms, and treatment of the same disease can be significantly different between the sexes. Convinced that the sex-specific differences in coronary artery disease were not unique, Dr. Legato began a wide-ranging survey of all medical specialties and in 2004, published the first textbook on gender-specific medicine, The Principles of Gender-Specific Medicine. The second edition appeared in 2010 and the third edition, dedicated to explaining how gender impacts biomedical investigation in the genomic era, won the PROSE Award in Clinical Medicine from the Association of American Publishers in 2018. A fourth edition is forthcoming.
She also founded the first scientific journals publishing new studies in the field, The Journal of Gender-Specific Medicine, and a newer version, Gender Medicine, both listed in the Index Medicus of the National Library of Medicine. She has founded a third peer-reviewed, open access journal, Gender and the Genome, which focuses on the impact of biological sex on technology and its effects on human life.
Dr. Legato is the author of multiple works, including: What Women Need to Know (Simon & Schuster, 1997), Eve’s Rib (Harmony Books, 2002), Why Men Never Remember and Women Never Forget (Rodale, 2005), Why Men Die First (Palgrave, 2008), The International Society for Gender Medicine: History and Highlights (Academic Press, 2017), and most recently, The Plasticity of Sex (Academic Press, 2020). Her books have been translated into 28 languages to date.
As an internationally respected authority on gender medicine, Dr. Legato has chaired symposia and made keynote addresses to world congresses in gender-specific medicine in Berlin, Israel, Italy, Japan, Panama, South Korea, Stockholm, and Vienna. In collaboration with the Menarini Foundation, she is co-chairing a symposium on epigenetics, Sex, Gender and Epigenetics: From Molecule to Bedside, to be held in Spring 2021 in Italy. She maintains one of the only gender-specific private practice in New York City, and she has earned recognition as one of the “Top Doctors in New York.”