Sramana Mitra: In some of your ideas that you’ve presented in the book, you are talking about AI being an augmentation factor as opposed to displacement factor in various workflows. I think the classic one that fits that bill would be in healthcare with doctors working with patients and electronic medical records. It’s actually a big frustration area for me as a consumer to watch how badly medical systems use technology and data.
Would you comment on that? I’m sure you are working with health systems as clients. Where is the problem? Why is this not moving faster? I’m very pleased that cyber security and online advertising are moving, but why is healthcare not moving as fast?
Paul Daugherty: I’ll just rattle through a few other areas that are moving fast and I’ll get to healthcare. The other areas we see moving rapidly are customer care and customer service, supply chain, and compliance and risk. Those are some areas where we’re seeing a lot of activity. The challenge with healthcare is just the nature of the industry.
We see AI being applied in certain parts of the industry like drug discovery and clinical trials. When you get to the care provision area, there are a couple of issues there. One is, the large number of participants you have in the market with providers and payers, and then the complexity around medical records and accessing information. We’re seeing some interesting advances in areas like radiology.
We’re working with some companies on using AI and other technologies to do better post-operative care for patients. Once you leave the hospital, how do you make sure that you don’t end up back in the hospital.
Sramana Mitra: It’s a very common issue.
Paul Daugherty: Yes. We found ways to use artificial intelligence to check on certain things the right way and try to prevent that from happening. There’re a lot of advances there. It’s an industry that is fragmented which means it takes more time for the solution to be deployed at scale.
I think you hit on the right thing though. Healthcare is where there is huge benefits for AI. If you think about the potential of AI to help with new types of treatments, there has been some very interesting research and work done in treating depression and many other things where AI plus human can unlock new jobs and outcomes.
Sramana Mitra: On that topic, my read is that is the industry where AI can augment as opposed to displace. There are a lot of industries where AI is going to end up displacing lots of jobs. In healthcare, there is this possibility of enabling lots of people with perhaps not as advanced skills but can use AI to be able to bring healthcare to a much larger and broader set of people.
Paul Daugherty: I think you’re right. It’s even more important in developing markets where you don’t have enough radiologists and primary care professionals. On the jobs issues, we wrote about in our book, Human + Machine. The subtitle is, “Reimagining work in the age of AI.” The whole point of the book is you need to think about work differently. It’s more about this pairing of human plus machine to create new categories of jobs and we identify a category of jobs. Healthcare offers lots of opportunities for this.
One of the things we found is there is a lot of concern about all the jobs AI will displace. It will displace many jobs. We agree with numbers from the OECD report, which said that about 10% of jobs are at risk of being eliminated. The issue is really the jobs that are being transformed by AI. The person needs new skill to do their job. That’s what focus in the book.
Even in call centers, they don’t want to remove people. They want to free up people’s times so they can spend more time making the customer happier and selling other products to the customer and offload routine tasks to chatbots. It’s a combination of equipping people to do more.