The sci-fi thriller “M3GAN” depicts an AI-driven, lifelike android, who commits unspeakable atrocities in fulfilling its mission of becoming a friend and companion to a little girl. The film has a storyline that echoes all-to-common misconceptions of AI; such dramatic speculation has resulted in a throng of arm-chair Luddite commentators issuing dire warnings about our future AI-driven overlords surpassing human intelligence and taking over the world.
The reality of AI differs from the dystopian imaginations of Hollywood writers. While artificial intelligence and college campus thought experiments around “Singularity” are popular, AI is not, in fact, going to become our new master. What then, will AI accomplish? The most effective applications are not in the development of lifelike robots, but rather, in decision support, enhanced decision-making, business transformation, and systems modernization. In areas as diverse as healthcare and insurance, finance, and manufacturing, AI has already gained a foothold, delivering unmistakable benefits, shareholder value, and convenience for consumers.
A 2022 PwC AI business survey1 indicates that companies with proof-of-concept AI projects are ready to scale and already have active use cases, with many examples already showing significant ROI in the areas of business transformation, enhanced decision-making, and modernized systems and processes, as well as in overcoming labor shortages.
AI in healthcare: The doctor is in
Novel innovations are slow to take hold in healthcare compared to any other industry, and with good reason. With concerns over compliance, privacy, and repeatable accuracy, the industry is heavily regulated and must proceed with caution. But when AI-based benefits do accrue, they can be transformative and even life-saving.
We are not likely to see Star Trek-like holographic doctors any time in the near future, but the use of AI in healthcare has already led to important advances in diagnostics, accurately detecting irregular test results, and even assisting surgeons in performing delicate medical procedures. The ability to minimize human errors and life-threatening complications is unmistakable. On the paperwork side (and in healthcare, there is a lot of paperwork), AI automates routine tasks in documentation, data entry, and billing, and excels in clinical decision support, serving as a tool to support, but not replace the skills and knowledge of medical practitioners.