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Handheld Doctors

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6 comments to Handheld Doctors

  • petrucio

    I think that depending on how basic a ‘diagnoser’ you want, you wouldn’t need too much of an AI to be more accurate than many not so bright doctors.

    As far as I know, the process of diagnosing is pretty much collecting all symptoms and seeing where they lead you to, something that a stupid computer is much better equipped to do than a human. Of course, that’s for basic, day-to-day, non-House cases.

    And even if you do want a general AI type doctor, non-stupid, 350-400 years just tells me you are having a problem thinking exponentially. You may disagree with Kurzweil all you want, but 400 years sounds a lot crazier than he does.

  • Mat

    I don’t think experience and “human instinct” would be what would hold back the AI doctor. The task of diagnosing a patient given the symptoms seems like a solvable one. AI today can already do similar things – just look at the AI “Watson” who beat puny humans at jeapordy by drawing from a large body of knowledge to find appropriate answers to the questions.

    What’s so special about “gut feelings” anyway? It’s just a set of learned biases which work well. Computers can do the same thing.

    I’d say a bigger problem is the actual interaction between doctor and patient, which is not so straightforward. We have a while to go before we have friendly EMHs treating us :)

  • jaymatteo

    Similarly, I’ve always wondered why, in a world where a baby can be safely and painlessly ‘beamed’ out of the mother’s womb (I recall this happening in at least one episode), anyone would elect to undergo natural childbirth. Leaving the pain aside for a moment, this procedure would simply be safer for both parent and child.

  • shig23

    And why bother at all with starships crewed by 400+ individual sentients? That’s what I’ve always wondered. Why not just use 400+ holograms, and a computer big enough to maintain them? It would resolve the whole manned-versus-unmanned-exploration debate in one swell foop.

    Of course, it’d be more efficient to leave out the holograms and just put the computer in charge. We already know that, by the 24th century, you don’t even have to pull wires or crank levers to get the ship to do things it was never designed to do. Just tap a few buttons on a touch screen, and bzapp! A computer can do that.

    It makes logical sense, but it’d make lousy television. TV producers just aren’t very good at thinking through the implications of the technologies they blithely toss around.

  • @shig23 “And why bother at all with starships crewed by 400+ individual sentients?” that’s an easy one. We crew the starships with sentients so that the sentients will get to go places. Seriously, whats the point of building the fricking thing if you don’t actually go anywhere in it?

  • Myk

    @Mat: But imagine if we could only get all the people that have the right people skills, but insufficient dedication to become medical practitioners – you know, the ones that today become quacks and woo practitioners, and arm them with easy access to real medical knowledge. They can spend the quality interaction time without the ten years of study required.

    But otherwise, yeah, if my reading of the Science Based Medicine blog has taught me anything, it’s that medical practitioners’ “instincts” are nowhere near as useful as a quality reference accessing the latest information would be.

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