If artificial intelligence is better at saving lives, will doctors become obsolete?

Support us and go ad-free

A study published in the open-access online journal PLOS ONE has found that artificial intelligence (AI) systems can be better at assessing a patient’s risk of heart attack than a doctor. Doctors can correctly gauge a patient’s heart attack risk at a rate of 72.8% using a standard protocol. But researchers discovered that, by using four AI systems which analysed thousands of patient data records, this figure rose – ranging from 74.5% to 76.4%.

Obsolete 

Researchers highlight that AI’s superior accuracy – at first glance but a small improvement – means that around 355 patients’ lives could be saved. Authors also note that the machines recognised other risk factors not currently used by doctors to assess heart attack risk. These include mental illness and the use of oral corticosteroids (a class of steroids). It’s possible that adjusting the systems and adding in other risk factors could improve this accuracy.

Some argue that, if machines can save more lives than humans, then many of the doctors of today will become obsolete.

According to Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla, machines will replace 80% of doctors in the future. This is because machine learning will be a more efficient, cheap, and accurate way to carry out diagnoses. This trend is already indicated by NHS medical apps that reduce a patient’s need to visit the doctor.

On the other hand, it may be some time before robots replace doctors. Oxford University academics Michael Osborne and Carl Frey’s calculations suggest that medical practitioners have only a 2% chance of their job being automated in the next 20 years. Also, the risk of automation depends on the nature of the work being done. Some doctors’ work may include more automation, but not necessarily only automation.

Is your job at risk of being automated?

The study published by Osborne and Frey illustrates that 35% of jobs in the UK are at risk of computerisation. Authors calculated how likely it is that each job will be automated based on nine key skills. These are social perceptiveness, negotiation, persuasion, assisting and caring for others, originality, fine arts, finger dexterity, manual dexterity, and the need to work in a cramped work space.

Based on these factors, the jobs least likely to be automated (1%) include therapists, psychologists and nurses. Uniquely human traits, such as empathy, are crucial to these roles. Jobs that require original ideas and creativity are also at low risk of automation (e.g. artist: 4%; engineer: 2%; graphic designer: 5%). As a writer at The Canary, my risk of being automated is 33%, which is considered ‘not very likely’.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

As the evidence shows, if you are pursuing a career that is distinctly based on creative and empathic skills, it’s very unlikely that a robot will take your job in the future. In the name of efficiency and improving human lives, there is not much standing in the way of increased automation. But it’s not all doom and gloom. If anything, a society filled with more art and therapy is a step in the right direction.

Get Involved!

– Check out more articles from The Canary on AI.

Featured image via Max Pixel

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed