Anticipating the A.I. revolution

Goal is to augment human performance


Artificial intelligence (A.I.) is likely to change almost everything in medical practice, according to a new book called “Deep Medicine: How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Healthcare Human Again,” by Eric Topol, MD.

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Dr. Topol told The Hospitalist that his book’s subtitle “is the paradox: the unexpected, far-reaching goal of A.I. that can, if used properly, restore the most important part of medicine – a deep patient-doctor relationship.”

That’s because A.I. can do more than enhance diagnoses; it can also help with tasks such as note-taking and reading scans, making it possible for hospitalists to spend more time connecting with their patients. “Hospitalists could have a much better handle on a patient’s dataset via algorithmic processing, providing alerts and augmented performance of hospitalists (when validated),” Dr. Topol said. “They can also expect far less keyboard use with the help of speech recognition, natural language processing, and deep learning.”In an interview with the New York Times, Dr. Topol said that by augmenting human performance, A.I. has the potential to markedly improve productivity, efficiency, work flow, accuracy and speed, both for doctors and for patients, giving more charge and control to consumers through algorithmic support of their data.

“We can’t, and will never, rely on only algorithms for interpretation of life and death matters,” he said. “That requires human expert contextualization, something machines can’t do.”Of course, there could be pitfalls. “The liabilities include breaches of privacy and security, hacking, the lack of explainability of most A.I. algorithms, the potential to worsen inequities, the embedded bias, and ethical quandaries,” he said.


1. O’Connor A. How Artificial Intelligence Could Transform Medicine. New York Times. March 11, 2019.

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