Health products powered by artificial intelligence, or AI, are streaming into our lives, from virtual doctor apps to wearable sensors and drugstore chatbots.
IBM boasted that its AI could “outthink cancer.” Others say computer systems that read X-rays will make radiologists obsolete.
Yet many health industry experts fear AI-based products won’t be able to match the hype. Many doctors and consumer advocates fear that the tech industry, which lives by the mantra “fail fast and fix it later,” is putting patients at risk and that regulators aren’t doing enough to keep consumers safe.
Early experiments in AI provide reason for caution, said Mildred Cho, a professor of pediatrics at Stanford’s Center for Biomedical Ethics.
Systems developed in one hospital often flop when deployed in a different facility, Cho said. Software used in the care of millions of Americans has been shown to discriminate against minorities. And AI systems sometimes learn to make predictions based on factors that have less to do with disease than the brand of MRI machine used, the time a blood test is taken or whether a patient was visited by a chaplain. In one case, AI software incorrectly concluded that people with pneumonia were less likely to die if they had asthma an error that could have led doctors to deprive asthma patients of the extra care they need.
“It’s only a matter of time before something like this leads to a serious health problem,” said Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic.
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Source: Scientific American, 24 December 2019