AI is a phenomenal tool for assisting humans with repetitive and mundane tasks. Especially pattern recognition. I’ll give some examples from within healthcare, since that is where I am most familiar with the technology. Two fields that come to mind are pathology and radiology. These medical specialties rely on a human to do the pattern recognition on hundreds of images a day. Most have normal and abnormal findings on the images and sometimes the abnormal findings are difficult to spot. AI can very effectively look through the images and call attention to the abnormal areas that really need the physician’s attention. AI does not replace the human; it augments the abilities of the human. With AI, there should be less errors and improved efficiency in the process of reading all these images.
Another example I saw at a recent health conference around AI is to have the machine look over a patient’s medical record to suggest an underlying diagnosis where it was not previously considered. The company told a story of where a little girl was hospitalized numerous times for a respiratory condition that the doctors could not understand. AI was used to extract information from all the hospital records and suggest a diagnosis, a task that a human would have found tedious. A doctor still made the final diagnosis, but the mundane task of searching for keywords in thousands of pages of hospital records is done by AI.
A final example is to have the AI read all the medical literature on a topic and be a subject matter expert for the specialist. This is what IBMs Watson is supposed to do for oncologists. It isn’t possible for a health professional to read about all the studies that come out in their field every year, but Watson can do it without difficulty. It can then suggest the latest and greatest treatment based on that literature.
So the simple answer to the question is that AI makes human lives better by taking care of processes that do not require higher level thinking. I’m sure that applies to more industries than just healthcare.