Contributor: Pouria Mojabi
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There’s a lot of talk around artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare: early detection, personalization, even disease diagnosis - all from crunching large volumes of data. In almost all cases, AI either directly interacts with the user, chatbots for instance, or empowers the physician to better understand his/her patient. The AI-human relationship has so far been one-on-one. But what if AI could connect a group of humans together to heal one another?
The Growth Numbers
According to a recent RockHealth report, total funding for AI/machine learning-powered digital health companies is on the rise. 121 AI/ML companies in digital health have raised a total of $2.7B through 206 deals from 2011 through 2017, just over 10% of all venture dollars invested in digital health during that period.
AI Helps Humans Decide
For the most part, AI/ML in healthcare means a very smart algorithm crunches through large volumes of data and discovers patterns that might be hard for humans to see. Statistical models can be formed based on training data sets. Once AI parameters are fine-tuned, it can be used for prediction/detection and maybe alert the caregiver if things deviate from the norm.
AI helps the human decide better. Empowering patients, physicians and hospitals to track, monitor and diagnose, making data-driven decisions that are not limited to the individual’s training and experience. AI has the potential of turning every doctor into a “best doctor” by offering data-driven insights at critical decision-making points that go beyond the individual’s training and experience -- helping the physician see the alternatives and effects of different paths.
Some of the algorithms used in today’s AI systems include: deep learning, reinforcement learning, generalized linear models, random forests, and support vector machines.
The AI-human Relationship is Monogamous
Whether it is a physician using the AI to decide better or a user talking to a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)-equipped chatbot, we typically interact with the AI in a one-on-one setting. In the emotional and mental health space, the one-on-one interaction has created therapy AIs that are obsessed with accurately understanding the user input and coming up with a relevant response that can help the user overcome a stressful situation. Or with apps that connect you to a therapist or coach, a user can interact with the AI to find the best possible one-to-one match.
The AI-human Relationship Can be Polygamous
Going back to the emotional and mental space, imagine multiple users all independently talking about a stressful day at work. In a chatbot setting, each person will talk to the bot, completely isolated from the others, and the bot will be hard at work generating relevant responses to help. This might be a very limited experience, contributing to more isolation. What if the AI was “smart” enough to bring some of these users together in a group, all going through a similar struggle. So far, this new AI has helped with one big thing: letting them know they are not alone. These individuals can now interact with each other and connect at a deeper level, which will slowly result in a more connected society where people are not afraid to let out their true thoughts and feelings.
This new AI can continue to monitor the conversation, and if the topic changes for some users, it can offer a different group that can match their needs better. It can also recommend relevant content and resources that can be used by all the group members. This new AI does not only help decide, but it can also empower humans to heal each other and fix the broken social fabric. This AI is what today powers Supportiv, The Support Network.
A Completely Different Philosophy and Technology Focus
While technologies like chatbots Alexa or Google Home are hard at work trying to precisely understand the user input, in a group setting that can’t be the goal. Instead, you have to precisely understand the similarities across different chunks of data. It changes the thinking from absolute to relative. Measuring correlation and overlap becomes the goal and even though we don’t fully understand the user input, using similarity analysis, we can find a matching user.
New Role for AI: Enabler of a Deeper Human Connection:
Once humans connect at a deeper level, healing can start to happen. After all, some think the root of most of our modern day life issues are that we are separated and alone. The community is broken, and we are getting more and more isolated in our constantly connected lives. @Supportiv, we think that AI can be used to bring back our lost connections and, as a result, fix the fabric of our society.
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