Does Artificial Intelligence Spell The End For Radiology?
Question About Artificial Intelligence:
Greetings, could you elaborate these words ”(Artificial intelligence) will have a profound effect upon all of our careers, for better or FOR WORSE” and ”have more to gain and MORE TO LOSE”.
I am asking because in the above text you’ve written only about the good things of AI while with these words you’re also implying bad things about it, but I as a reader don’t know about them as you haven’t listed them?
I am a doctor from Europe whose first specialty choice is radiology, but this artificial intelligence surge is making me think twice about it…everything I read, including your piece, is a 2-way street ala ”AI is great, but you will have to adapt to it”. The end. Could somebody please tell me HOW I will have to adapt and what are the BAD things of AI in the radiology field cause it’s freaking me out? Radiology, as it is now, is a great specialty but I don’t want to be left jobless and incompetent 10,15,20 years from now. It’s a life’s decision, and I have exactly ten days to decide!!
You are indeed not alone about worrying about the future of radiology and AI. However, after attending the RSNA meeting and talking to colleagues, I believe that AI is not going to take over a radiologist job entirely for a long time (if ever). That aside, AI technology may allow fewer radiologists to do the same amount of work that we do right now. By improving triage, artifacts, and integration, it will make the radiologist job a little bit easier.
AI Will Not Take Over The World!
Why do I say this and not worry about AI taking over the world? First, the ability of an algorithm to detect something is only as good as the programmer, the number of data points, and the quality of the data. However, programmers have not optimized the algorithms. The data points are too few. And, the quality of the data is not uniform. So, I don’t see that happening for a very long time.
Moreover, deep learning algorithms still have a tough time distinguishing simple solitary findings on a plain film such as a pneumothorax (often mistaken for chest tubes), let alone all the findings on a chest film. Therefore, I don’t believe the interpreting programs can independently function.
More importantly, companies are not going to want to accept the consequences of the liability of missing findings on films that go unchecked by a radiologist. So, I see AI as more of a team effort instead of a radical upheaval of all radiologist’s jobs. Let’s spread the liability risk!
What Is The Real Downside Of AI?
With the advent of any new technology, we will see our fair share of crashes, bugs, and technical problems. So, I believe that these would be the main downside. But, I think the downside is overall reasonably limited. My advice- if you like radiology, you should go for it. If I were deciding on a profession today, I would not let my fears of AI dissuade me from choosing the radiological field.
My two cents,
Barry Julius, MD