2016

Stories related to "Technology."

conversations

How Can Humans Work With Artificial Intelligence?

Humans’ fear of robots taking over jobs (or, perhaps, the world) dates back many decades. But there are lots of ways in which AI is already being integrated into the workplace, and the trend will only continue. Yes, AI may take the place of some jobs, but it will also create new jobs—and free up humans to engage in more creative and, well, human tasks. Justin Adams, ’10, is CEO of Digitize.AI in Charlotte, North Carolina: "Most people are familiar with the fact that AI is being used in manufacturing—think robots on an assembly line. But much of AI’s role is service based these days—in health care, for example, which is what my company does. Right now, AI is being used for more of the rote functions, the repeatable and predictable. Humans don’t innately want to do repetitive, rote work, and I think AI will help free people up to do more creative work. My view of AI in the workplace is very positive: I wouldn’t have started an AI company if I didn’t believe that! For instance, my company developed an AI system that can do 50–70 percent of the work hospitals have to do to get preapproval from insurance companies for medical procedures. Currently people are still sending faxes, if you can believe that, or manually entering data online. Because humans are prone to error, and treatment can be delayed because of lack of prior approval, there’s a real patient impact here. Our software can handle approval in the majority of cases, leaving only the more complicated cases that require creativity or negotiations with the insurance company. Humans still have to handle these.

perspectives

On a Mission to Send 'Citizen Astronauts' to the Stars

Special people go into space. In 58 years, fewer than 570 astronauts from 37 countries, most of them highly trained scientists and aerospace professionals, have traveled to space, almost entirely through government-backed programs. Soon, probably this year, the Federal Aviation Administration will certify for-profit space travel companies and, according to industry members, special people of a different sort will be able to travel into space at $250,000 each. However, as futurist Buckminster Fuller said, “The Earth is a spaceship,” which means that we are astronauts—all of us, not just the special people. “If we don’t democratize space, it will be the province of the ultrawealthy,” said Ulisses Meneses Ortiz, ’16, director of international affairs at Space for Humanity, a company that intends to be that force for democratization. Space for Humanity will give 10,000 private citizens from around the world all-expenses-paid trips to space so that they can be ambassadors for space exploration and help solve some of Earth’s most intractable problems. Space for Humanity sees itself as an education provider rather than a space travel transportation provider. The company will place passengers on spacecraft manufactured and launched by others, partnering with all available providers to allow for the greatest diversity in spaceflights. Its travelers will receive leadership training before they blast off and mentoring after they return. Would-be passengers must have a reason beyond the “way cool” motivation for wanting to go. Of the 100 or so applicants to date, almost all have terrestrial projects they want to tackle when they come back.

conversations

To Your Health

The Challenge: In the early 2000s, a 50 percent failure rate for mental-health-drug trials meant the Food and Drug Administration approved few new treatments for psychiatric diseases, says Amy Fershko Ellis, ’80, who cofounded MedAvante in 2002 to analyze how the pharmaceutical industry tested psychiatric drugs. Her team found the root cause of trial failure was measurement variability and investigator bias in subjective assessments of trial participants. MedAvante created a holistic methodology to improve testing, but the company encountered industry resistance as outsiders looking to change the way clinical trials had long been conducted. The Strategy: Ellis applied universal principles to product development. Because drug trials are conducted in various parts of the country and around the world, companies pay investigators to find, evaluate, and enroll patients. But differences between investigators result in unreliable outcomes. MedAvante, however, proposed a way to control and centralize the evaluation process, using the internet to connect remote clinicians to patients to ask the same questions in the same way and characterize patient responses identically. MedAvante also digitized the process and made it cloud based, so researchers would have instant results. To build credibility, MedAvante enlisted key medical and scientific leaders who believed in their strategy and concept—mostly academics who didn’t have an economic bias. In 2005, MedAvante’s first two trials involved drugs that had previously failed. The new methodology showed significant results demonstrating the drugs worked, and the treatments were approved. Even with those results, industry skepticism of MedAvante’s nontraditional approach meant slow methodology adoption. But by 2009 the psychiatry industry embraced the system, and MedAvante dropped the 50 percent trial failure rate to the low teens. In 2014, MedAvante expanded the platform for use in all medical drug trials, using new technology to enhance data quality for drug developers. New services were quickly adopted beyond psychiatry, especially in studies of Alzheimer’s disease, where the company now holds a leadership position. “We benefited from the halo we had from our success,” Ellis said. The Takeaway: A great strategy can work in all sectors, even if implemented by industry outsiders. If the strategy and results are sound, don’t be discouraged by naysayers.