Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will disrupt the world of work, but many experts believe that the technology is more likely to change jobs, rather than replace them.
Particularly in sectors like healthcare, AI will augment the skills of specialists such as radiologists but will never be able to master all their tasks.
As Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM, told Forbes, AI now can detect tumours on an X-ray. Sometimes, it can do this better than humans. But what the research shows is that AI is better at detecting some types of tumours, while doctors are better at detecting other types. It is not “man or machine” but — as it has been since the invention of the first stone tool — “man and machine”.
Discussing this issue in more depth, an article in The Economist says that AI is likely to remain “narrow” in focus.
“No human is as good at mental arithmetic as a $10 pocket calculator, but that is all the calculator can do,” the magazine explains. “Deep learning is broader. It is a pattern-recognition technique, and patterns are everywhere in nature. But in the end it, too, is limited — a sort of electronic idiot-savant which excels at one particular mental task but is baffled by others.
“Instead of wondering whether AI can replace a job, it is better to ponder whether it could replace humans at a specific task.”
As well as analysing images, radiologists also decide which images should be taken, confer on tricky diagnoses, discuss treatment plans with their patients, translate the conclusions of research into real-life practice, and so on.
Using AI for image analysis “leaves radiologists not with a redundancy cheque, but with more time to focus on other parts of their jobs — often the rewarding ones,” The Economist concludes.