AI Pixie Dust

Posted by Mark Lazarovich on Dec 23, 2019 11:27:45 AM
Mark Lazarovich


After practicing medicine for over 30 years, being a 62 year old “disruptor” is as exciting as it is frustrating.  Curiosity about emerging technologies exposed me to many “solutions” while 3 decades of patient interactions presented many problems which could be solved “if I could  only get…..”.   Today’s technologies frequently offer answers only visible to those posing the right questions.  Being 62 one develops a long list of questions.

Despite rumors to the contrary, I did not know Ivan Pavlov.  Most know of his dogs but are not aware of the applications of his work in everyday life.  If you think about transportation safety, marketing and education the applications of his work become very clear.  The theory is very powerful and very (superficially) simple.  Conditioned reflexes can be triggered by a variety of signals: specific colors, sounds, music, scents, images…..The reflexes can induce very rapid and significant psychological and physiological responses.  A particular scent can make you happy, sad or angry depending on the association you formed with it.  It will have an effect on your nervous system, effecting your blood pressure, heart rate, vigilance, secretion of adrenalin corticosteroids and more.  If we could induce a positive association of a desired physiological state with a particular trigger we would be in a position to reproduce that state in specific circumstances.

Here we come to the “if I could only get….” moment.  And the answer:  AI.  We are using Deep Learning AI to consistently and accurately detect specific physiologic states.   This allows us to develop an association (conditioning) between the desired state and a trigger of our choice: scent. 

The question of how to efficiently, without adverse effects solve problems of Insomnia, Pain and Anxiety was answered.  Biosensor + AI + Classical Conditioning + Scent.

It is but one example of using a powerful technology to solve real problems.

Advances in technology are all around us.  Technology appears in new and old media posts, supermarkets, cars, homes and personal items.   Under objective scrutiny not all of the “intelligent” technology is meaningfully helpful.  In some instances it may be of more value to the seller than the user. There are many examples of solutions looking for problems.  Pseudo-problems are created to build markets for expensive technology looking for a payoff.

AI can be used to solve serious and very real problems.  However, it is on its way to the place occupied by .com 20 years ago.   It is becoming the modern pixie dust, being sprinkled on anything worth selling.  There are many real problems left to solve and many important questions to answer.  More interdisciplinary conversations are necessary to connect questions and problems with solutions.  Let's avoid squandering resources on creating and solving pseudo-problems.



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Topics: AI, Medicine, HealthTech, MedTech