What’s artificial intelligence got to do with it?

By Grainne Maguire, Director, London, UK

Artificial intelligence (AI) and what it will mean for mankind is a hot topic in the media now. We are, we are told, at the beginning of the next wave of an industrial revolution, the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) and this time, the wave is being driven by AI. While Elon Musk said that AI ‘is a fundamental risk’  to human civilisation and the late Stephen Hawking warned against the dangers of it replacing humans, there isn’t any doubt that AI is here to stay. We already use AI and machine-learning technologies in everyday life, whether it’s setting prices on Amazon, tracking your Deliveroo order to your door, or receiving recommendations for music you like on Spotify.

AI in Healthcare

What I’m intrigued by, however, is what is happening on the health front and what can be achieved there. The adoption of AI in healthcare is growing. Predictions from the new report Worldwide Health Industry 2018 Predictions, from research and consulting firm IDC Health Insights, say that ‘by 2021, 20 percent of healthcare and 40 percent of life science organisations will have achieved 15 to 20 percent productivity gains through the adoption of cognitive/AI technology.’ For the healthcare systems and patients, that must be a good thing, leading to improved care for patients and a more sustainable future. AI tools are already in use in major disease areas e.g. in cancer-analysing clinical images to identify skin cancer subtypes, and an AI system for neurology used to restore the control of movement in patients with quadriplegia. Researchers have also used machine learning to identify how individual stroke patients might respond to different medications based on the unique structure of their brain!

There’s no doubt that AI can do seriously impressive stuff and it’s no surprise that Google, Microsoft and IBM have recently moved into the AI healthcare space with Apple and Amazon expected to follow suit. But for most of us AI is an enigma and we need more understanding of this emerging technology and how it impacts our health and wellbeing. Hopefully, if it’s handled right, AI will bring substantial benefits in managing our health without risk to our independence, and certainly we need help in collating those mountains of data!

What do you think about AI? Tweet us @TonicLC to share your thoughts.


Today’s top health stories: 19 January

Device allows deaf people to ‘hear with their tongue’

Image source: GizMag

A new device allows deaf people who are unable to receive a cochlear implant to ‘hear’ sounds via electrical impulses sent to their tongue.

The mouthpiece takes sounds from a microphone attached to the ear and converts them to electical signals. The signals are then sent to the tongue’s nerve-endings via Bluetooth. After practice and wearing the device for a period of time, users will learn to interpret the electric signals as sounds as the brain rewires itself.

John Williams, associate professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Colorado, led the research after developing tinnitus and wanted to create a cost-effective alternative to cochlear implants.

Source: The Telegraph


Late-night alcohol encourages restless sleep

Image source: Medical Daily

The University of Melbourne has proven that drinking alcohol shortly before going to sleep impacts upon sleep quality and can impair cognitive functions the following day.

Confirming what many people already had anecdotal evidence for, researchers took 24 people and found that the 12 who drank alcohol before going to sleep failed to enter the REM phase of the sleep cycle, which is associated with the deepest and most restful period of sleep.

As well as reducing the chance of a good night’s sleep, the study found that alcohol before sleeping impacted upon mental processes the following day, such as memory and the comprehension of information.

Source: The Independent


Those in stressful jobs could have an increased risk of stroke

Image source: iNew Media

A pool of 14 previous studies has found that people who are in demanding or highly stressful jobs are more likely to have a stroke compared to those who are in more serene employment.

Although job stress had previously been linked to the increased likelihood of a heart attack, this is the first time a connection has been made between job stress and stroke.

The merging of multiple studies meant that data on 200,000 adults was used to come up with the conclusion.

Source: Reuters