Jan 31, 2024
Dr. Alan Gaffney MD

A Pirate's Ailment: The Unlikely Scurvy Diagnosis and the Importance of Oversight of AI in Healthcare

A Pirate's Ailment: The Unlikely Scurvy Diagnosis and the Importance of Oversight of AI in Healthcare

A child was brought by her mother into a dental clinic recently. The child was experiencing gum bleeding but the cause wasn’t so obvious to the doctors. ChatGTP suggested scurvy - the same disease that its creator, Sam Altman, had himself experienced in the past. What are the chances that a disease of pirates and AI creators would come out top of the list? As it turned out, vitamin C deficiency (scurvy) was indeed the diagnosis, but only after all the other serious causes of bleeding were investigated and ruled out by the doctors. 

This case highlights the capability of AI like ChatGPT in augmenting expert decision-making but also underscores the need for authenticity and oversight in AI-generated content.

AI systems, for all their sophistication, operate on the data fed into them, which inherently carries the biases and errors of human input. In critical fields like medicine, the authenticity of this data and the AI's consequent output is paramount. A misdiagnosis or oversight could have dire consequences. Thus, verifying and ensuring the authenticity of the information AI systems work with and generate is a responsibility that cannot be overstated.

Moreover, the need for oversight is crucial. AI tools, despite their advanced algorithms, do not possess the human qualities of ethical judgment and contextual understanding. In the case of the child with suspected scurvy, it was the human professionals who made the final call, using AI as a tool to broaden their perspective, not as an autonomous decision-maker. This incident serves as a reminder that while AI can provide valuable insights, it should complement, not replace, human expertise.

In conclusion, the story of the child's diagnosis is a compelling testament to the potential of AI in professional settings. ChatGPT, and AI tools like it, can be powerful assistants in the hands of experts. However, as we integrate these tools into more aspects of professional practice, we must remain vigilant about maintaining authenticity and stringent oversight. These measures ensure that AI serves as a beneficial supplement to human skill and judgment, enhancing our capabilities without undermining the crucial human element.