What is AI up to?

By Phillips CD

Not sure how many of you were able to get to RSNA 2023. I’m not going to say it was back to full speed, but it was pretty close.

The varying intensity of the meeting is still a little odd to me. On Tuesday you got through the bridge from the East building only by bending forward and moving into the press of humanity. It is a little like leaning into a gale-force wind. To say nothing of being greeted a hundred times by people you know, which mandates a five- to ten-minute discussion as humanity streams by you on all sides. A trip across that bridge is a minimum 20-minute process. I love it.

I will eventually miss RSNA quite a lot. Not going to RSNA is something I will undoubtedly have to start getting used to as I move along to the “next phase” of my career (fewer meetings, more talk about retirement). But what happened at RSNA 2023? What was new? What made people happy (or depressed)?


Jeez, I’m pretty sure that ChatGPT (or perhaps a clone of it) and its latest iteration will soon be chewing my food for me. If it lets me eat. It may not have the need for me.

I was very fortunate this year to moderate the annual Image Interpretation Session. Smart folks looked at some nearly impossible cases I gathered with the assistance of my colleagues. And they hammered them. These are some very intelligent people. But you know, at some point I wonder if they all just presented the cases to their AI system and said, “Hey, AI, what is this case?”

Not this year, but at some point, it is a possibility. You know what’s coming? We will have patients taking their online images and their history and physical exam findings and inputting it all into their free AI program. And we will get insistent letters saying things like, “Why didn’t you think about sparganosis?” “Don’t you want to order a serum molybdenum level on me? Please see attached AI comments.”

And you know what else? I don’t think our non-radiology colleagues are immune to this at all. You can click boxes and say where it hurts, and these programs can do your work-up. When AI programs get ordering and admitting privileges we are in trouble. Surgical robots are already out there; with time they will also know what to do on their own. “Hi, I’m Bill, your anesthesia robot. And this is Suzy, your surgery robot. Don’t worry, you won’t feel a thing.”

I love what I do, don’t get me wrong. However, I am on many levels happy to be at the point in my career where I am, as opposed to just starting out.

I wonder if AI needs a cup of coffee in the morning to get started? A mid-day chocolate? Does it like a cold martini at the end of a particularly bad day? Can it write a humorous send-up of humans?

Yeah, unlikely.

Keep doing that good work. Mahalo.

Phillips CD. (Jan 24, 2024). What is AI up to?. Appl Radiol. 2024; 53(1):48.
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