Artificial intelligence: the medical connection

Artificial Intelligence, fed into increasingly powerful computers designed to learn and think for themselves, presents extraordinary opportunities to solve some of the world's most pressing problems as well serious concerns about keeping them under control.   

IBM says it's working on many down to earth artificial intelligence projects, mostly aimed at improved healthcare and longevity. These are projects where computers almost instantly analyze unimaginable amounts of data and learning to help craft treatments and protocols, some down to the individual patient level. 

This excites Stanford computer scientist Professor Michael Genesereth. "Medicine is a particularly good example because of the vast amount of data is necessary to understand what a good treatment would be," said Genesereth.
IBM's CEO often speaks about artificial intelligence, where thinking, learning, and cognitive computers can open a new era in medicine. "I think we're at a moment when we can actually transform many parts of healthcare. We can reinvent many pieces and we can change things," said Ginny Rometti, IBM's CEO at a recent conference.
Initially, IBM offered to show us several examples in South San Jose. They include applications to look at human cell structures to find new cures for disease with the SF Exploratorium and UC Santa Cruz. In conjunction with UC San Diego, IBM is developing applications to use microbiology and genetics to help the elderly live independently for longer. 
And in association with the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, IBM is developing transportation applications to help the elderly and disabled better navigate public transit. 

"This idea of cognitive healthcare, systems that learn, that this is real, that it is mainstream and it is here,” said Rometti. “And it can change almost everything about healthcare.’
IBM is even developing new microprocessor materials to process artificial intelligence data much faster -- far sooner than legions of humans. Despite the importance of using new technologies for these noble purposes, and after initially offering to show us these wonders, IBM, for reasons unstated, said it would not participate. 

In tomorrow's report, we will look at why, perhaps, there is a hesitation to talk about the emergence of artificial intelligence. We'll also take a look at the serious ethical issues underlying all of that.