AI in Health Care: No, the Robots Are Not Taking Over


Dec. 1, 2022 – It’s common for many people to fear the unknown, and exactly how artificial intelligence might transform the health care and medical experience is no exception. 

People might be afraid, for example, that AI will remove all human interaction from health care in the future. Not true, say the experts. Doctors and other health care workers might fear the technology will replace their clinical judgment and experience. Also not true, experts say. 

The AI robots are not taking over. 

AI and machine learning remain technologies that add to human know-how. For example, AI can help track a patient over time better than a health care professional relying on memory alone, can speed up image analysis, and is very good at prediction.

But AI will never replace human intuition in medicine, experts say.

“AI is unemotional. It’s fast and very, very smart, but it does not have intuition,” says Naheed Kurji, board chair of the Alliance for Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare and CEO of Cyclica Inc. 

Machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence where a computer learns over time as it gets more and more data, could sound threatening to a person who might not fully understand the technology. That’s why education and greater awareness are essential to ease any concerns about this growing technology. 

“You need to have an understanding of human behavior and how to help people overcome their inherent fears of something new,” Kurji says. 

All this new science needs to be explained to the public, and machine learning is certainly one that deserves explanation,” says Angeli Moeller, PhD, head of data and integrations generating insights at Roche in Berlin, and board vice chair for the Alliance for Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare. 

“It’s useful to ground it in examples that the general population is familiar with and with technology that has grown,” she says. “On our smartphones, we benefit from a significant amount of machine learning – even if you just look at your Google search or your satellite navigation system.”

Moeller says it’s helpful to think of AI as an assistant to a doctor, nurse, a caregiver, or even a patient trying to understand more about a medical diagnosis, treatment plan, or prognosis. 

Also, with big data comes big responsibility. “Health care industry accountability is important,” she says. 

With than in mind, the Alliance for Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare was created in 2019 as a forum for industry players – drug companies, biotechnology firms, and database entities – to convene and address important AI questions. The group seeks to answer some fundamental questions, including: How do we ensure that we have ethical and appropriate use of artificial intelligence in health care? How do we make sure that that innovation gets to the patient as quickly as possible? 

“If you think about your personal life, a decade ago, your car didn’t have autopilot modes where it drove itself,” says Sastry Chilukuri, co-CEO of Medidata and founder and president of Acorn AI. “You didn’t really have an iPhone – which is like a computer in your hand – much less like have an Apple Watch – which is like another minicomputer on your wrist pumping out all kinds of data.”

“Our world has dramatically changed over just like the last 15 years,” he says. “It’s very interesting, I think. It’s a good time to be alive.”