Why Aren’t Watson-like Computers Already Practicing Medicine?

Way back in ‘83, I was excited to read that medical expert systems, developed over the previous two decades of research, could often diagnosis as well as human doctors. I judged that artificial intelligence was ready for the big time, and left grad school for Silicon Valley in the hope of joining this exciting revolution.

Three decades later, we have over 10,000 times more computing power, yet medical expert systems are rarely used. Doctors say it takes just as long to enter patient info into a computer as it does to diagnose patients themselves, and medical licensing rules prevent selling such software to the public. Absent such licensing restrictions, expert systems might long ago have revolutionized medical practice.

More from Robin Hanson’s post here.

Comments (5)

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  1. Tom says:

    I think if there were I’d be scared that eventually they would get tired of serving us and take over the human race.

  2. Devon Herrick says:

    A few years ago a firm that produced software, used to create simple legal documents (simple wills, bills of sale, lease agreements. etc.), was taken to court for practicing law without a license. In the end the firm prevailed and was able to continue selling its software.

    In the information age I find it hard to understand why is illegal to sell to the public computer algorithms that can predict disease based on probabilities.

    I also remember reading an article in Access to Energy how the widespread use of mass spectrometry in the coming years could replicate some of the diagnostic skill of doctors. Supposedly, mass spectrometry of bodily fluids could identify diseases and conditions for a low cost if performed in volume.

  3. Paul H. says:

    Interesting post.

  4. Tom says:

    I mean, look at what happened when it was tried in 1968.

  5. Greg says:

    What if Watson makes a mistake? Can you sue him for malpractice