This past week has been particularly busy for the field of artificial intelligence (AI). An open letter from Future of Life Institute has warned of the risks, arguing that AI algorithms such as ChatGPT are out of control, and called for a six-month halt to further development. Signed by luminaries such as Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, and Yuval Noah Harari, distinguished author (seen above right, © Wikipedia), the letter said recent months “have seen AI labs locked in an out-of-control race to develop and deploy ever more powerful digital minds that no-one – not even their creators – can understand, predict, or reliably control.”
Whether any action will result is an open question although, just yesterday, a complaint by the Center for AI and Digital Policy to the Federal Trade Commission urged the agency to investigate OpenAI and suspend the commercial deployment of its ChatGPT product. On 27 March, two editorials appeared in JAMA Network, one entitled “Harnessing the promise of artificial intelligence responsibly,” while the other focused on “AI-generated medical advice – GPT and beyond.” The first proposed “a Code of Conduct for AI in Health Care, developed transparently and collaboratively, that can be tested, validated, learned from, and continually improved as AI evolves.”
Writing in AuntMinnie.com, Dr Matthias Goyen, chief medical officer for GE HealthCare (seen left, © The GE Brief), argued that AI algorithms will not replace radiologists but rather enable them to devote more time to activities only humans can do. There’s been a dramatic increase in demand for imaging services and, with staffing shortages and resultant burnout, AI could not have arrived at a better time for radiologists. Goyen said that AI algorithms would take advantage of big data, relieve administrative burdens, move care outside the hospital, and enable diagnosis and treatment of cancers.
iCAD is a publicly listed company that sells AI-based diagnostic tools, including ProFound for digital breast tomosynthesis. Earlier this week, the company published its annual financial results for the year ended 31 December 2022, reporting total revenue of $27.9 million, offset by operating expenses of $33.7 million. What is not mentioned on the company’s website is that iCAD has laid off 28% of its workers – 23 employees – according to a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, costing $300,000 in severance and benefits payments.
So, where does that leave us at the end of the first quarter of 2023? It seems unlikely that governments around the world will heed the advice of Future Life Institute, and more probable that AI algorithms, particularly in healthcare, will proliferate in the months ahead. Time will no doubt tell.