Could AI Take Your Doctor's Job?

Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla said in a talk that AI could disrupt the medical industry.

As artificial intelligence grows and develops from tech companies and investors, it’s likely to disrupt a variety of industries. But one prominent tech industry figure thinks it could also extend to the medical field.

In a panel discussion at MIT Tuesday, investor and Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla said he believes AI could be powerful enough to replace human oncologists, VentureBeat reported.

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“I can’t imagine why a human oncologist would add value, given the amount of data in oncology,” Khosla said. “They can’t possibly comprehend all of the things that are possible.”

Khosla argued education alone wouldn’t be enough to insulate workers and industries from the broad shifts that high-end AI could cause, contending even technicians like radiologists wouldn’t be necessary in the future.

Among industry analysts and technologists, the rise of AI has been a frequent point of discussion. Like Khosla, many have argued automation and smarter AI applications could have a drastic effect on workers and make their jobs obsolete. Khosla argued governments and industry analysts will need to contend with this possible risk in the future. A March analysis from PricewaterhouseCoopers said 38 percent of U.S. jobs could be vulnerable to automation within the next two decades.

While AI has commonly been seen as a science fiction pipe dream, the field has still seen a drastic upswing in investment among tech companies in the past few years. Companies like Microsoft and Google have made AI research a recent priority.

In addition, the field has also seen similar interest from investors. Earlier this month, Canadian AI company Element AI raised $102 million in venture funding. The combo incubator-AI firm designs its own AI applications for corporate use and plans to help facilitate further research in the field.

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Companies also have emphasized machine learning and AI usage for general applications. Facebook touted its use of AI in its counterterrorism prevention efforts while EA hopes to integrate AI and machine learning to power its future video game releases.

In addition, AI has seen a similar upswing at the consumer level. While virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant seem fairly unassuming, they’re still related to the same platform of artificial intelligence used at the enterprise level. When you talk to an assistant, the program needs to hear and process what you’re saying to provide an answer.

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