Can AI finally deliver a paradigm shift in medical applications?

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Contrary to popular opinion, Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a branch of mathematics has been around
well before the famous Turing test. The breakthrough in AI moving from the realm of science fiction
to making a real difference in the world is directly linked to advances in computing. In most leading
destinations worldwide, it is now difficult to avoid interfacing with AI. Whether you are about to
select a song recommended to you by Youtube or about to sit in your AI-driven Tesla for a trip
downtown via an AI-in-the-loop CCTV system – AI is taking over our lives and is here to stay.
Medical applications of AI are different from other applications that have a peripheral impact, entertain us or make our lives easier. The onset of the COVID pandemic suddenly and explicitly exposed a fundamental truth – the weak link in the world is the human being. The susceptibility of humans to COVID resulted in a seismic shift in society. It is not an exaggeration to say that civilization will never be the same again. Consequently, the interest in human health increased exponentially. Naturally, this led to the question – of how can technology and in particular AI help us to improve our resilience against disease.

Medical improvements in society have also been evolutionary in nature from formally identifying
medicine as a profession, filtering out ‘quack-related practices’, the discovery of penicillin, Wilhelm
Rontgen’s X-rays, keyhole surgery….the list goes on. There are fundamentals to understand in
medical applications summarized as follows:

  1. A healthy human body provides positive health trace diagnostics (Blood pressure, BMI, etc).
  2. In the majority of cases, trial & error determines the underpinning condition.
  3. Early identification significantly improves the chances of a successful intervention.
  4. Misdiagnosis continues to be a major issue around the world.
  5. Understanding human body functions, as well as cures, is a continuous activity.
  6. Medical advice changes regularly.
  7. It’s the change that provides an early indication of a problem.
  8. In the majority of cases, unusual symptoms develop to a level leading to the patient seeking medical assistance.

After establishing the aforementioned medical heuristics we can map how AI capability can
help. The first thing to note is the backbone of AI is completely based on its big data capability. To
operate its algorithms successfully, AI uses and produces lots of data. This means medical-related
data that is fundamental in understanding change to key metrics such as body weight statistical
assessments can be supported by AI. The other key area is understanding data by using the
real-time sequential pyramid concept of gathering data, managing data to obtain information, and
decision making based on the information. To achieve the real-time sequential pyramid, patterns in
data need to be understood quickly and accurately. This is exactly what I needed in medical
applications hence the renewed interest in AI by medical practitioners. As long as data can be
managed securely/sensitively and changing medical processes are accepted by decision makers, AI’s potential to transform the medical sector is there to be exploited.

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