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Time to regenerate: the doctor in the age of artificial intelligence

Liu, X; Keane, PA; Denniston, AK; (2018) Time to regenerate: the doctor in the age of artificial intelligence. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine , 111 (4) pp. 113-116. 10.1177/0141076818762648. Green open access

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Abstract

Introduction We are experiencing a rapid expansion of new technologies which are fusing the digital and biological worlds. New digital technologies—such as artificial intelligence, electronic health records and Big Data, telemedicine, ‘wearables’ for home monitoring and virtual/augmented realities—are shaping the future of medicine to become more efficient, more accurate and more sustainable.1 Digital systems from industry leaders such as DeepMind and IBM Watson are already being tested for use in healthcare in the UK and the United States. Faced by machines that outperform us in many areas, some clinicians fear that artificial intelligence will render them redundant. This is, however, to underestimate the role and value of the doctor to the patient and society. Yes, artificial intelligence has the potential to precipitate one of the greatest changes in the role of the doctor to date, but this is not something to be feared. Change is inevitable, but we believe the core values that characterise a good doctor will remain unchanged. In contemporary culture, there is a timeless hero known simply as ‘The Doctor’ who regularly regenerates to meet the demands of a new generation of humans. Despite the anticipation – and even anxiety – of each regeneration, we quickly get used to each new incarnation of ‘The Doctor’ because the core principles hold firm.2 So, too, in the age of artificial intelligence. Doctors will need to adapt: to let go of old roles, and to find where they can be most relevant, and make most impact. In most reviews of artificial intelligence, it is the computer algorithm that takes centre stage: what can it do better than humans. In this article, we have put the spotlight back on the human doctor: their role and their unique gift – to be human, when a perfect algorithm is not enough.

Type: Article
Title: Time to regenerate: the doctor in the age of artificial intelligence
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/0141076818762648
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177/0141076818762648
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Science & Technology, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Medicine, General & Internal, General & Internal Medicine
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Institute of Ophthalmology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10048877
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