Researchers at the University Hospital of the University of Tokyo Institute of Medical Science facilitated a breakthrough for the human race and a milestone for singularity watchers when they used an artificial intelligence system to save a human life. According to Japan’s NHK News (in Japanese), the AI system was able to correctly diagnose a woman’s illness after reviewing 20 million previously-published oncological studies and analyzing the woman’s health indicators.
The lucky patient was 60-year old Ayako Yamashita, a woman thought to be suffering from acute myeloid leukemia. After several rounds of unsuccessful treatments, researchers decided to let artificial intelligence try to determine the cause of the woman’s illness. The woman’s health data was given to IBM’s Watson, an artificial intelligence capable of carrying out a variety of tasks that require the analysis of vasts amounts of data.
Using the woman’s data, Watson was able to cross-reference thousands of data points and correctly diagnose that the woman was in fact ailing from a rare form of leukemia that went undetected with conventional diagnostic methods. After changing her treatments to target this specific type of leukemia, the woman showed significant improvement.
This level of data processing is impossible for our feeble human minds, but a walk in the digital park for Watson. Earlier this year, surgeons published a study highly praising robotic surgical systems, which performed simple surgeries better than their human counterparts. If AI and robotics researchers keep making advances at this current rate, the age of human doctors could soon be at an end.
Several law firms have even begun using modified versions of IBM’s Watson to review legal cases and data. Now that two of Western civilization's most revered professions, doctors and lawyers, have already begun being replaced by AI and/or robots, the dystopian (or is that utopian?) future we’ve all been promised is suddenly looking a lot closer.