UK Prime Minister Theresa May is set to make a speech today which is said to include a new call for the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare. That's according to a new report from the BBC, which says that the speech will put a sharp focus on how AI can help address cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and dementia. Primarily, the discussion will center around how the technology can be used to diagnose and outline treatments plans for those types of conditions for which early detection is paramount. In fact, experts expect that its use can prevent as many as 22,000 cancer-related deaths per year by 2033. What's more, the Prime Minister may target 2035 as a year by which a high quality of life can be extended by a further five years. Specifically, May will be touting how the technology and its earlier diagnostic techniques can be used to make an additional five years of a given individual's life "healthy, independent, and active."
While the tone of the speech is predicted to be hopeful and forward-thinking, this will not be the first time anybody has made similar statements. It is well known that early diagnosis is a key factor in both treatment and survivability of the listed ailments. Many international organizations, including both Alphabet and its subsidiary Google, have invested vast resources in utilizing AI for just such a task. AI could, if implemented properly, provide both more accurate and early diagnostic determinations and more personalized care.
However, embedding it in the UK's national healthcare system is going to require substantial effort, according to the chief executive officer of Cancer Research, Sir Harpal Kumar. Infrastructure, for example, will be integral in ensuring that it is well-embedded and that it works as intended. Moreover, the plan expected to be forwarded by May will likely require any algorithms involved to have access to sensitive medical data. That will include medical records, lifestyle habits, genetic information, and likely a bit more. While the advances could add years to a person's lifespan and improve the quality of those years, that's not going to be an easy sell. Personal data privacy and similar issues have become hot-button topics over the past few years. So it remains to be seen whether the UK can successfully pioneer a government-led program for including AI as a tool for medical institutions.