Critical Readings in AI: The Bigger Picture, vol. 2
A new series focused on AI literacy outside the hype-doom binary. For the second installment, Reality Studies looks at the future of health and medicine with generative tools.
The “Critical Readings in AI” series is focused on helping develop informed approaches to AI. Each installment synthesizes resources that have helped me clarify my own position and thoughts on what’s at stake, as well as situate them within the bigger picture. Resources included here are not endorsements; they are here because they provide a frame on the subject that I think is useful to understand, not because I intend to promote anything or anyone outright.
In the first installment of this series, we took a look at some of the labor questions that the rise of generative AI provoked. For this volume, we look at another contested topic: the future of health and medicine with generative tools.
It’s no surprise that medicine is often referenced by proponents as a leading use case for generative AI. On its face, it’s hard to argue with the idea that we’ll be able to accelerate critical medical research, formulate novel treatments, decrease costs, and improve access to positive outcomes around the world.
Of course, it’s not quite so simple—with these new opportunities there are new risks, ranging from over-reliance on these tools by medical practitioners, to skills gaps using these technologies increasing inequality, to the ways these tools will be implemented to cut costs in hospitals, to bad actors using these tools to develop harmful biological formulations (i.e., chemical weapons). These opportunities and risks are outlined in what follows.