A CIO article, “Artificial Intelligence: Humankind’s Best Chance for a Healthier Future,” makes a really good point about the past and future of medicine. Many of the greatest advances in medicine depended upon observation and almost accidental discoveries. Really smart people had to be in the right place at the right time.
For example, Pasteur noticed that people who contracted cowpox seemed immune to smallpox; Fleming noticed that mold killed bacteria in an unwashed dish. These kinds of brilliant minds managed to make connections that helped cure and prevent diseases because they noticed what other people didn’t notice.
However, in an era when the most brilliant scientists and doctors have already picked the low-hanging-fruit of discoveries, it might take invention and not discovery to advance medicine further and faster. The opportunities for noticing patterns are still there, but they may be too subtle to get noticed by a happy accident. It probably fair to say that if historical scientists and doctors had access to the kind of information that today’s doctors do, some diseases may have been conquered a lot faster.
This is where artificial intelligence, with its ability to process data much faster than the brightest minds, may revolutionize healthcare in the future.