What Role Will Artificial Intelligence Play in Finding a Cure for Cancer?

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Technological advancements are changing the world we live in. Although we have yet to reach the point where we’re all piloting flying cars (Back to the Future, anyone?), the widespread role of technology, including artificial intelligence, goes largely unnoticed by the general public. From Amazon’s Alexa to the shows recommended by Netflix based on what you’ve already watched, artificial intelligence plays a massive role in our daily lives and its role will only continue to grow as time goes on.

While some people may be afraid of machines and their ability to work more efficiently than their human counterparts, there's no denying the benefits of artificial intelligence and machine learning. The developments we’ve seen as a result of this technology begs the question: what developments have been made using artificial intelligence to not only better the human experience, but potentially prolong it?

Artificial Intelligence & Healthcare

In addition to its use in everyday life, artificial intelligence is making strides in healthcare. The application of artificial intelligence in this field dates back to the 1960s, but measurable progress started being seen in the 1980s and 1990s alongside the growth of the internet. Today, researchers and doctors working with artificial intelligence have been able to improve how healthcare is approached, ranging from the speed they’re able to process data to robot-assisted surgery.

While AI serves a variety of purposes, according to The Health Care Blog, the technology's impact on healthcare may come from its ability to pay attention to small details. For example, when a non-English speaking patient is admitted to a hospital, there are several barriers preventing them from receiving the care they need. Even small requests, such as changing the temperature, often require the help of outside sources.

Dr Stephen Klasko, President and CEO of Thomas Jefferson University, says: ‘An AI enabled smart patient room – utilizing the Internet of Things – can speak to the patient directly, in their native language… translate their request and change the temperature. Going forward, this AI system will remember these details for the next time the patient is admitted and even document these within the patient’s chart.’

The Impact of Artificial Intelligence in Cancer Care

In the U.K. alone, roughly 2.5 million people are living with cancer.

The unfortunate reality is that every second makes a difference when it comes to cancer patients. Although chemotherapy, surgery and radiation are all available treatment options, very few cancers are 100% curable. Cancer rates are rising and because most people are affected by the disease in some way or another, making the push to find a cure paramount.

Institutions have been working to advance cancer research using artificial intelligence for years. A 2007 report found that artificial intelligence could reduce the amount of time spent targeting during radiation treatment, and several institutions have begun using artificial intelligence for diagnosis.

Recent reports suggest artificial intelligence is capable of detecting and diagnosing certain cancers with a high degree of accuracy. For cancer patients facing urgent situations, artificial intelligence’s ability to make quick and accurate inferences is incredibly important. This is especially true for patients diagnosed with rare or aggressive diseases, including cancers with short poor prognoses like mesothelioma. Early detection in cases such as these could save their lives.

Although AI draws mixed emotions from the general public, the developments we’ve seen in the 21st century are nothing short of amazing. Artificial intelligence is transforming the way we approach nearly everything, including the way doctors treat diseases that affect so many of us.

We may not have the ability to drive flying cars just yet, but that, along with a cure for cancer, may be just around the corner.

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