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Sunday, April 08, 2018

Radiologist Case Study of AI and Professional Jobs

Useful thoughts about how professional expertise might or might not be replaced.  Augmented, but not replaced?  With good detail.    We examined similar professional applications in healthcare in previous AI efforts.

AI Will Change Radiology, but It Won’t Replace Radiologists
Thomas H. Davenport, Keith J. Dreyer, DO   in HBR.

Recent advances in artificial intelligence have led to speculation that AI might one day replace human radiologists. Researchers have developed deep learning neural networks that can identify pathologies in radiological images such as bone fractures and potentially cancerous lesions, in some cases more reliably than an average radiologist. For the most part, though, the best systems are currently on par with human performance and are used only in research settings.

That said, deep learning is rapidly advancing, and it’s a much better technology than previous approaches to medical image analysis. This probably does portend a future in which AI plays an important role in radiology. Radiological practice would certainly benefit from systems that can read and interpret multiple images quickly, because the number of images has increased much faster over the last decade than the number of radiologists. Hundreds of images can be taken for one patient’s disease or injury. Imaging and radiology are expensive, and any solution that could reduce human labor, lower costs, and improve diagnostic accuracy would benefit patients and physicians alike. ... "

What does this mean for radiologists? Some medical students have reportedly decided not to specialize in radiology because they fear the job will cease to exist. We’re confident, however, that the great majority of radiologists will continue to have jobs in the decades to come — jobs that will be altered and enhanced by AI. One of us (Keith) is a radiologist and artificial intelligence researcher, and the other (Thomas) has researched the impact of AI on jobs for several years. We see several reasons why radiologists won’t be disappearing from the labor force, which we describe below. We also believe that several of these factors will inhibit the large-scale automation of other jobs supposedly threatened by AI. ... "

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