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Doctors to be "obsolete"?

Thursday November 8th, 2018

Doctors “as we know them” will eventually become obsolete because of artificial intelligence, an expert claims today.

Machines will be able to accumulate and assess knowledge of medical developments more efficiently than human doctors, according to Dr Jorg Goldhahn, deputy head of the Institute for Translational Medicine at ETH Zurich, Switzerland.

It is also not subject to bias reflecting “cultural influences and links to particular institutions,” he says in The BMJ.

Dr Goldhahn says machines will be the answer to the difficulty and cost of training adequate numbers of doctors.

He writes: “The notion that today’s physicians could approximate this knowledge by keeping abreast of current medical research while maintaining close contacts with their patients is an illusion not least because of the sheer volume of data.”

He adds: “Introducing AI-driven systems could be cheaper than hiring and training new staff. They are also universally available and can even monitor patients remotely.

“Doctors as we now know them will become obsolete eventually.”

His argument is rejected by another Swiss doctor, Professor Giatgen Spinas at University Hospital in Zürich, Switzerland, who says that machines will never replace the personal relationship between doctor and patient.

Together with Canadian academic Vanessa Rampton, he writes: “Feeling they’ve been heard by someone who understands the seriousness of the problem and whom they can trust can be crucial for patients.

“Computers aren’t able to care for patients in the sense of showing devotion or concern for the other as a person, because they are not people and do not care about anything.

“Sophisticated robots might show empathy as a matter of form, just as humans might behave nicely in social situations yet remain emotionally disengaged because they are only performing a social role.”

Head to Head: Could artificial intelligence make doctors obsolete? Patient commentary: Stop hyping artificial intelligence: patients will always need human doctors. The BMJ 8 November 2018

http://www.bmj.com/content/363/bmj.k4563

Tags: Europe | General Health

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