DUOSandra Volny & Robert Truog

Touching at a Distance – Robert D. Truog –

En cours de traduction

Historically, the practice of medicine has been a physically intimate endeavor, with physicians using their senses of touch, smell, hearing, and sight, to uncover the mysterious manifestations of disease. Beginning in the 1800s, physicians began to distance themselves from patient’s body, progressively relying more on technologies like x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, chemical analyses of the body’s fluids, and paper traces of the electrical impulses of the heart and the brain. The “patient” has become disembodied, a fragmented collection of images, often experienced by patients as alienation and isolation.

Cognitive psychologists say that the human brain can process only four independent variables at a time, yet today’s physicians must cope with a veritable tsunami of information that has been abstracted from the patient’s body. As such, AI has arrived at the perfect time, promising to integrate these splintered images into a coherent whole.

Optimists believe that AI is destined to rescue the doctor / patient relationship, by turning back the clock to a time when physicians could develop meaningful personal relationships with their patients, witnessing and alleviating their suffering. I worry that the current generation of physicians neither value this goal nor have the training to deliver it. If the promise of AI is to be realized, we will need a new generation of physicians who are truly committed to bringing the art of touching back to medical practice, and who will learn how to use the tools of AI as simply a different means of touching, as “touching at a distance.”