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AI Has a Firm Grip on Radiology, But (Hopefully) Patients Will Prefer Human Doctors Over Robots

Artificial intelligence occupies powerful space in the medical industry. Today, many clinics and hospitals have tablets in place of receptionists, deep learning models are already diagnosing TB, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers are using algorithms to detect breast cancer before a breast imager can. These advancements accelerate image interpretation, and in a lot of ways, make a radiologist or technologist’s job easier; however, is technology poised to obliterate the radiologist’s role altogether?

According to the financial management firm Cornerstone Capital Group, out of the 16 million retail workers in the U.S., over 7.5 million are at a “high risk of computerization.” The firm’s analysts reference the dwindling numbers of manufacturer workers, an industry which touted 19 million workers in 1979 and has now dropped to 12 million as a result of automation and international outsourcing.

Yet, despite these stark figures, major companies like Starbucks are pushing back on artificial intelligence by prioritizing their human workers. According to Scott Galloway, professor of marketing at New York University, the interpersonal experience is integral to a business’s success. "When you go into Starbucks, you feel better about the experience because the person behind the counter — the barista — actually seems to be enjoying their job or feel as if they're getting paid well and learning something,” he told Business Insider. You can’t perceive that kind of sincerity with a screen or robot.

Although artificial intelligence is capable of doing many aspects of a radiologist’s work, these kinds of insights only indicate that the patient-physician bond is stronger than one created with robots.

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