Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryMedicine and Health

Asian Doctor with the stethoscope equipment hand holding the Artificial intelligence of brain technology over Abstract photo blurred of hospital background, AI and physician concept

How AI Can Make Medicine Better—or Not

Experts offer some real-world cautions about powerful new AI tools

Medicine involves many risks, benefits, and tradeoffs. Early diagnosis, for example, can certainly be defended and promoted on a right-to-know basis. But that is not the same thing as saying that it reliably improves outcomes or even enjoyment of life. If a powerful AI method reliably detected the very early onset of Alzheimer, it might ruin a senior's early retirement years without changing the outcome much. Getting the most from AI will include determining the relationship between what it can potentially do and what will provide a medical benefit.

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Middle aged Asian man wearing glasses and medical face mask on public train, Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, air pollution and health concept

Coronavirus in a World Without Trust

In China, medical heroism thrives despite both paranoia and justified mistrust of authorities

While China’s citizens are living in an information vacuum, the government has stepped up its surveillance strategies in order to track people who have been near someone infected with the coronavirus. Some commentators consider these measures disproportionate to the actual risk posed to others and in violation of human rights. Others see them as necessary.

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Two female women medical doctors looking at x-rays in a hospital.

AI Can Help Spot Cancers—But It’s No Magic Wand

When I spoke last month about how AI can help with cancer diagnoses, I failed to appreciate some of the complexities of medical diagnosis

As a lawyer with medical training reminded us recently, any one image is a snapshot in time, a brief part of the patient’s whole story. And it’s the whole story that matters, not a single image, perhaps taken out of context.

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Rest in Peace Posters of Dr Li Wenliang, who warned authorities about the coronovirus outbreak seen at Hosier Lane in Melbourne, Australia. Hosier Lane is known for its street art.

Censorship? But Coronavirus Doesn’t Care!

Back when SARS was a threat, social media wasn’t the giant it is today. Censorship, secrecy, and detention are less effective tools of control now

Coronavirus provides a test. The Chinese Communist Party offers mainland Chinese people security and prosperity in exchange for the sacrifice of personal freedom. But when the government cannot uphold its end of the agreement—security—the people may become less tolerant of the human rights violations. And the age of information makes it much easier to discover them.

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Demographic Change

Can The Machine TELL If You Are Psychotic or Gay?

No, and the hype around what machine learning can do is enough to make old-fashioned tabloids sound dull and respectable

Media often co-operate with researchers’ inflated claims about machine learning’s powers of discovery. An ingenious “creative” approach to accuracy enables the misrepresentation, says data analyst Eric Siegel.

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Empty plate with parsley leaf

What Your Brain Wishes You Knew About Fasting…

But you'd have to give it a try in order to find out

Why does fasting clarify the mind, instead of making us dizzy and anxious for food? Jay Richards, author of Eat, Fast, Feast (2020), says researchers now think that ketosis (burning stored fat for energy instead of blood sugar) naturally produces clearer thinking.

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Obstetric Ultrasonography Ultrasound Echography of a first month

Abortion Advocate Admits in a Medical Journal That Unborn Children Feel Pain

The scientific community has for decades misrepresented the straightforward science of conception and fetal development for ideological reasons

I have cared for hundreds of premature infants and it is very clear that these very young children experience pain intensely. An innocuous needlestick in the heel to draw small amount of blood would ordinarily not be particularly painful for an adult. But a tiny infant will scream at such discomfort.

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Photo by Bret Kavanaugh

Yes, Split Brains Are Weird, But Not the Way You Think

Scientists who dismiss consciousness and free will ignore the fact that the higher faculties of the mind cannot be split even by splitting the brain in half

Patients after split-brain surgery are not split people. They feel the same, act the same, and think the same, for all intents and purposes. Materialists like Jerry Coyne focus on subtle differences and distort the big picture.

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Breast cancer histology: Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) is seen in the lower left with invasive (infiltrating) lobular carcinoma in the upper right. Screening mammography can detect early tumors.

How AI Can Help Us Fight Cancer

Breast cancer is an excellent example of how AI can speed up early detection

AI catches things doctor miss, and doctors catch things AI misses. Using the AI to highlight what may be cancer tissue helps the radiologist focus on ambiguous situations, reducing the chance of missing early cancers.

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GPS navigator in desert

AI Should Mean Thinking Smarter, Not Less

We should be all the more engaged when we use technology

Tim Harford points to the Sanchez tragedy to raise an important question: How do we know when a given technology is really helping us? And when we are taking too great a risk or paying too high a price?

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Face made of shiny metal cubes. Looking Down.3d render

2019 AI Hype Countdown #5: Transhumanism never grows old

The idea that we can upload our brains to computers to avoid death shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the differences between types of thinking

Computers are very effective but they operate with a very limited set of causal abilities. Humans work from an entirely different set of causal abilities. Uploading your brain to a computer is not a question of technology. It can’t work in principle.

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2019 AI Hype Countdown #6: AI Will Replace Scientists!

In May of this year, The Scientist ran a series of pieces suggesting that we could automate the process of acquiring scientific knowledge

In reality, without appropriate human supervision, AI is just as likely to find false or unimportant patterns as real ones. Additionally, the overuse of AI in science is actually leading to a reproducibility crisis.

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Asia cyclist injured on the street bike after collision accident car and bike.

New Tech to Warn Drivers and Cars of Cyclists Ahead

Most people I have talked know (or knew) people who were struck by motor vehicles, either as cyclists or pedestrians

Hopefully, in ten years’ time, a bike suddenly emerging from behind a roadside dumpster will be fully visible to both the car and the driver long before a driver would usually see it today.

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A man going through the dark old tunnel. Tunnel with traffic lights and a silhouette of a man

What If a Near-Death Experience Is a Vision of Hell?

Oddly, even distressing near-death experiences have had positive effects, say researchers

One researcher observes at Psychology Today that the strongest predictor of a successful suicide attempt is a previous failed suicide attempt—unless the person has had a near-death experience, in which case further suicide attempts are unlikely.

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Robot's body

Would You Want Immortal Life as a Cyborg?

Would you give up your right arm for a robotic device that performs better? Think about it

Transhumanism can mean uploading one’s mind into cyberspace. But some transhumanists hope to slowly morph into “immortal cyborgs” with endlessly replaceable parts. Five years ago, we were told, we were all turning into cyborgs: Did you recently welcome a child into the world? Congratulations! An upstanding responsible parent such as yourself is surely doing all you can to prepare your little one for all the pitfalls life has in store. However, thanks to technology, children born in 2014 may face a far different set of issues than you ever had to. And we’re not talking about simply learning to master a new generation of digital doohickeys, we’re talking about living in a world in which the very definition of “human”…

Clouds tunnel

Do Near-Death Experiences Defy Science?

NDEs do not defy science. They sometimes challenge human senses. which are based on our biology

For example, if the human eye’s usual limitations were not a factor, previously unknown colors—which we know from science to exist—might be perceived.

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Concept of brain surgery or neurosurgery. Neurosurgeon holding scalpel in hand over 3D anatomical model of human brain. Brain surgery operations for treatment of diseases - tumor, aneurysm, epilepsy
Scalpel on model of brain

Some People Think and Speak with Only Half a Brain

A new study sheds light on how they do it

A range of neuroscience research findings is more readily explained by assuming that some aspects of thought–– abstract intellectual thought and free will–– are immaterial.

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light at the end of the tunnel

Why Medical Scientists Take Near-Death Experiences Seriously Now

Today, we know much more about what happens to people when they die—and what we are learning does not support materialism

Near-death experiences are generally seen as real, even among hardcore skeptics, and research focuses on how to account for them.

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Man trying to whistle

Google’s Secret Health Data Grab: The Whistleblower Talks

This is the fourth whistleblower in the last eighteen months

“The decision came to me slowly, creeping on me through my day-to-day work,” we are told, until it came down to “how could I say nothing?”

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Medical Research Scientist Typing Information Obtained from New Experimental Drug Trial. She Works in a Bright and Modern Laboratory.

The Nightingale Sings — About Your Health Data

The skinny from Google’s health care data grab: Your privacy may not be anywhere near as well protected as you might think

The biggest question coming into focus is whether traditional patient confidentiality protection really works in the age of the internet. As to what changes are needed and who will sponsor them, both US Sen. Amy Klobuchar and US Sen. Josh Hawley, on opposite sides of the aisle, are watching the file.

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