For Second Opinion, Consult a Computer?

Description: Will a computer ever successfully stand in for a skill that is based not simply on a vast fund of knowledge but also on more intangible factors like intuition?


Date: Dec 3, 2012


Just how special is Dr. Dhaliwal’s talent? More to the point, what can he do that a computer cannot? Will a computer ever successfully stand in for a skill that is based not simply on a vast fund of knowledge but also on more intangible factors like intuition?

The history of computer-assisted diagnostics is long and rich. In the 1970s, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh developed software to diagnose complex problems in general internal medicine   Read Rest of Story 

 Questions for discussion:

1. Do you feel computers will eventually do most of the medical diagnostics needed in the medical world? Why or Why not?

2.  Is this type of artificial intelligence more prone to use expert systems or neural networks to achieve best results?


67 thoughts on “For Second Opinion, Consult a Computer?

  1. Mohamed

    This was a very interesting read. Yes I do believe that computers will take over most of the medical diagnostics that need to be done in the medical world in the future. As technology advances daily humans won’t be needed to do everyday jobs like processing medical diagnostics like they have in the past. Although they can be prone to mistakes and break down that be the negative side to it. With information technology assisting the software that will be doing the medical diagnostics I feel that numbers and results will be a lot more accurate. With the question of artificial intelligence being answered this system is more prone to use expert systems because it incorporates the decision making skills of a human helping it to make better choices.

  2. Richard Giles

    This is an interesting topic as it starts to dive into artificial intelligence and the ability of these computers. We are at the beginning of a technological revolution in which our devices and technological capabilities keep increasing. If you look back just on hundred years which is very short compared to the entire time of human civilization we have progressed by leaps and bounds. Inventions and innovations have increased exponentially for all of human time and we are at the point to which the increase at which our technology capabilities increase in astronomical. By just looking ten years into the past you can see all the obsolete and useless technologies if they were here today. I think that these super computers able to diagnose peoples symptoms is not a if, but a when. It just depends on how long it will be till technology develops to the extent where it can use intuition and self-judgment calls. On the bases that I believe we will be able to develop computers able to accurately diagnose people i think we will be using them over convention doctors for two reasons. First of a computer could do tests check your symptoms and diagnose you in a short period of time while a conventional doctor usually has to send you to another place to take blood out and do the tests. Secondly there would be less human error and therefor less wrong diagnoses because of a simple switch or other mistake a person could do.

  3. Delaney

    I believe that computers may help with many medical diagnostics in the future but that the human element will never be truely removed. With any computer diagnostic there should be at least a human double checking the diagnosis. There may be something the computer missed that a human would notice. Computers also have malfunctions and can break down, get viruses or malware. If this happened and we soley relied on computers there is a potential for many disasters. We don’t want to have medical doctors that don’t know what they are doing without their computers.
    2. this type of AI is more prone to use expert systems because there are so many different symptoms that patients may (or may not) experience. They may experience half the symptoms or have other symptoms that are not from their sickness that should be ignored.

  4. xiaochang

    In my opinion, the computer will not eventually do the most of the medical diagnostics needed in medical world because the direct feeling from human will more effectively diagnose the medical problem. Even though a lot of disease are psychology sick, but psychology is able to bring the big impact on the sicker. Especially, when people have serious disease, their family and doctor give treatment and concern on their emotion and psychology. However, computer cannot diagnose people’s psychology. Moreover, computer just rely on the information people put it in before. For some newly disease, computer may not be updated in time. Everyday, many new kinds of resistant appear, and many old germs are doing variation, so information for computer need to be updated in time, but it is so hard. It is hard for computer to flexibly diagnose people. I think it is more prone to use expert systems than neural networks to achieve best results. Expert system still simulate human beings, it is hard to pass human beings. In some areas, such as medic, it is impossible. However, I do believe that computer will play a more and more important role in the future in the area of medic

  5. Nyabac Akorkawg

    I strongly believe that computers will not do most of the medical diagnostics needed in the medical world, because computers do not have capabilities of a human being; such as intuition for example. Therefore, computers however are useful for check list or for a second opinion as the title of the article, to assist in diagnostic and to reinsure the results of doctor’s findings. Although, computers have advance humans’ knowledge in all aspects of the working world; it is however, a human programmed machine that should not be relied on at all times, because it can malfunction at any time. In such situations doctor are on the own the must decide on what illness a patient have and they must be confident in their findings without the second opinion for the computers. This genus of artificial intelligence is more prone to use expert systems to achieve the best results, because of the different genus combinations of symptoms available out there.

  6. Trishia Whiteknife

    Yes, I do feel computers will eventually do most of the medical diagnostics needed in the medical world. Nowadays computers are used for just about everything. With the advancement in technology I can only see it improving. Everything is computerized today, from surgeries to X-rays to various clinical tests. There has been several innovations over the past 30 years in medical field. If we want to find out more about a certain type of illness we can use computers to research and understand the illness, also we can use a computer to find a specialist for better treatment.

  7. Karissa

    This was a very interesting article; I believe that in the near future computers will be doing most of the medial diagnostics needed for medical work. I believe that anything is possible with technology, and as we have seen it grow exponentially over the past decade I believe that it will continue to grow and shape the lives of people. I think that if lasers and computers are already used heavily in some operating rooms, that one day operating rooms will consist of nothing but the patient and a computer. I think it scares people to know that computers are capable of diagnosing them with a disease or even just a cold. Society demands technology in everything they do from traffic lights to bank cards to even paying bills and turning lights on. People don’t like living at the stake of a computer even though it may be more accurate than any human, they would rather be able to blame someone if it goes wrong, or thank someone if it is right. I also think that because of the growing population it is harder than ever to get into seeing a medical doctor. With the use of technology maybe one day we can send a few robotic “doctors” over to developing worlds to save people from illness and prevent it from spreading without infecting real doctors. This would also help the research and development side of things since real doctors will be able to study more than practice and since computers learn more after every move, they might even be able to cure cancer.

  8. esther

    With continued development in computer aided technology, i strongly believe in near future technology will play major role in medical diagnosis, alll the practitioner has to do is seat on the system to get details and analysis of the computer generated infomation on a particular diagnosis.with more research and development in medical automated response system (MARS) which is an aspect of espert system medical diagosis,consultation and prescription will be done with the use of computer technology.That although will not take away the importance of the intuitiveness of our medical practitioners .

  9. qian.rong

    It is not hard to figure out that the computer can work as a professional doctor. The computer programmer designer put all kinds of diseases and symptoms and even therapeutic methods into scientific analysis, statistics analysis based on the Years of clinical experience of all kinds of doctors. And then splits it into multiple parts, stored into the main memory of the computer doctor. Then the computer doctor can start diagnose the patients. When patients input their symptoms and all kinds of physical and laboratory testing results into the computer doctor, the computer can then use the patients’ information to compare with its memory, and figure out the Corresponding diagnosis and prescriptions to the patients.The computer will never make a mistake. It is more accurate than the human beings. People might get tired eventually, or sometimes drunk, their brain cannot functional working well sometimes. But the computer can keep calm in any times. So the computer can avoid any medical negligences and do better jobs than the human doctors. The computer doctor also has the much faster learning factor that can beat the human doctors. They can learn and memory thousands of new cases in seconds and then use it as samples to diagnose next time.

  10. Yalun Li

    No, I do not think computers will eventually do most of the medical diagnostics needed in the medical work. It is true that computers are good at crunching numbers; people are naturally good at matching patterns. But as the article said “To make a decision, physicians must combine logic and knowledge with their pattern-matching instincts”. Also, for Clinical Precision, in the emergency room can shift very quickly, so I believe that doctor’s experience is most important. Like Dr. Dhaliwal said. “One challenge of this, whether you use a computer or your brain, is deciding what’s signal and what noise is. Much of the time, it is his intuition that helps figure out which is which.” All in all, doctor and computer combine would be the best for the medical diagnostics.
    This type of artificial intelligence is absolutely more prone to use neural network to achieve best results. People’s energy is limited, in a limited range, with the help of the computer, will reduce more errors. So, people should believe, there will be unexpected good effect in the case of combination of computer and human brain.

  11. Mary

    This article proved to be very interesting as it explores the importance of technology in the medical community. It is amazing how much information systems have increased our abilities in the medical world. As time goes on there is no doubt in my mind that the capabilities in medicine will continually be enhanced due to new information system technology. While these advancements will be of great importance to diagnosis, I think it is important to ensure a human aspect is always present. While these technologies may offer doctors an enhancement in diagnosing illnesses they otherwise may have missed, these technologies may lead to doctors becoming to reliant on them. This could in turn become a problem if the technology was to crash or information was tampered with in the system. In addition, patients may become uneasy knowing that the outcome of their health lies within a computer system. While technology is vital in enhancing the medical world, it must be used carefully, and a focus must still be maintained on producing knowledgeable doctors capable of diagnosing on their own. IF this information is used simply as a support tool then a scenario where you have the best of both worlds can be achieved.

  12. Nelly.T

    No, computers will not be able to do most of the medical diagnostics needed in the medical world because it is just an electronic device for storing and processing data. It is only reliable to a point, but anything can occur involving computers including malfunctions of programs and loss of power during running of any programs. Like mentioned in the article “at work he occasionally uses a diagnostic checklist program called Isabel, just to make certain he hasn’t forgotten something. But the program has yet to offer a diagnosis that Dr. Dhaliwal missed” this is just an example of how computers will work only be able to work if symptoms don’t become too complicated and if they do a diagnosis would probably not be reliable. With having actual human doctors you are able to have that personal connection with the patient and with a live person you are able to pick up on cues that a computer just doesn’t know how to comprehend. Using a computer as a resource to find more information on certain medical issues would work, but as a way to diagnose a patient might cause more issues and problems with not just the patient but also doctors and nurses. This type of artificial intelligence is more prone to use expert systems achieve best results because of all the different combinations of symptoms available.


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