CHOC’s chief intelligence and innovation office explains AI’s impact on pediatric healthcare
It seems like artificial intelligence (AI) is being talked about everywhere. For parents, all the news reports and chatter about AI may bring up questions, concerns and uneasy feelings about how this advancing technology may affect their kids — both now and in the future.
In this Q&A, Dr. Anthony Chang, pediatric cardiologist and chief intelligence and innovation officer at CHOC, answers questions about AI and how it may impact kids’ health and medical treatments.
What exactly is artificial intelligence (AI)?
Artificial intelligence (AI) is probably best defined by one of its originators, Marvin Minsky. 67 years ago, he said, “Artificial intelligence is machines doing tasks that require intelligence by humans to do so.”
It’s a simple definition, but it works for the most part. Today, machines are more sophisticated and can learn from the data and information that they are given. The learning part of AI is becoming more advanced, which is different from the way Minsky defined it years ago.
Everybody seems to be talking about ChatGPT. What are some other forms of AI that we already use?
You may use AI tools more frequently than you think. It’s used when you buy something online, search for something on Google or ask a voice-recognition device (like Siri or Alexa) a question. One can argue that even a calculator is a primitive AI tool because it is a machine doing a task that requires intelligence from humans.
Of course, ChatGPT is a very current and obvious form of AI because it is now able to mimic human language. When you ask ChatGPT a question, it answers back in very relatable, easy-to-understand language. Recently, different kinds of artificial intelligence have become sophisticated enough to do that.
How will AI change medical treatments for children for the better?
There are three major ways that AI is already befitting pediatric healthcare, by:
- Interpreting medical images to support diagnoses and treatments.
- Finding the structure of a protein by looking at the genomic sequence of the protein. This will lead to new medications and vaccines.
- Reducing the amount of unnecessary, mundane administrative tasks that burden staff members.
With AI, I think it will be a wonderful 25 years coming up in pediatric healthcare. We must work together, share what we know and take advantage of what we have.
As a physician, how do you currently use AI in pediatric healthcare?
In the clinic at the Heart Institute, ChatGPT is an instant resource for me when I need to remember something about a diagnosis or treatment. It helps me stay on top of all the new information and discoveries in pediatric medicine.
AI is just another tool that physicians can use. It helps me make better treatment decisions for my patients.
Can parents trust medical information from AI?
Yes, but this question requires clarification. There is a lot of press about ChatGPT not being 100% accurate. However, it was never designed to be. ChatGPT is essentially a word-completion tool that is very sophisticated.
I do think that it’s a little bit unfair to say that ChatGPT “lies”; it’s doing its best to answer questions from people, and it will only get smarter in the future as it learns from humans.
AI needs to learn from us just as we need to learn from it. It is the only way we will have a successful future together.
Should parents be worried about AI’s impact on their kids’ health?
I think parents should be careful about giving their children and young adults access to ChatGPT when it comes to sensitive issues. If their child is using it, they should monitor their use. Parents should teach their kids the same online safety practices for AI as they would for social media.
I always say that artificial intelligence is a good tool for humans to pause and think about how they approach situations and how they answer questions. ChatGPT’s answers are learned from us and what we’re putting out on the internet.
We need to take the positive and negative aspects of AI and learn from both.
How might AI benefit kids’ health?
AI may be able to benefit kids’ health in the realms of education, medication and mental health:
- In education, AI can be helpful in providing more precise education to kids. In class, some kids already know what other students are repeating. But some kids don’t have enough time to learn everything in class. AI can help educate each child individually.
- In the same way, it can also suggest proper medication dosages for kids based on more than just their body weight. AI can interpret data to recommend more precise medications for kids.
- AI can also be a helpful tool for supporting youth experiencing mental health challenges. Some children or young adults can benefit from the addition of telehealth tools or apps that augment human-to-human interaction rather than meeting in person.
If AI-supported treatment with the same — or even better — results, then we can maximize our resources and our physician’s time.
What else should parents know about Ai?
I think parents should learn and do research about AI. They should especially learn about how AI will be an important part of healthcare from now on.
Additionally, there has been a lot of talk about the ethics of using AI. However, I want parents to also consider the ethics of not using AI as well – especially when the tools are available, mature and effective. I think both sides should be discussed and considered in an ethical framework.
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The CHOC Sharon Disney Lund Medical Intelligence, Information, Investigation and Innovation Institute, known as Mi4, is the hub for innovation at CHOC.