Paging Dr. Chatbot

Meet AMIE, the AI chatbot that did a better job diagnosing certain illnesses than human doctors… all while being comparatively nicer to its patients.  

Driving the news: The chatbot — powered by a large language model from Google — and 20 doctors each conducted 149 assessments of actors trained to portray medical symptoms. AMIE’s diagnoses were just as accurate or more accurate in the six specialties evaluated. 

  • AMIE also outperformed the docs in most measures for conversation quality, like politeness and perceived honesty. Though it did have a home-field advantage, as bots are generally better at quickly generating blocks of text.   

How it works: The system was trained by talking to itself after initially being fed troves of real-world medical data. Researchers asked the bot to play three different roles: the questioning patient, the empathetic doctor, and the critic evaluating the doctor’s interaction.

Why it matters: With family doctors hard to come by and walk-in clinic wait times steadily climbing, AI could help democratize medical expertise and provide at-home diagnoses that are far more trustworthy than what you’d get from WebMD. 

  • Physicians will also jump at the chance to use an AI helper, as making diagnoses is one of the hardest parts of the profession, and misdiagnoses can prove fatal

Yes, but: This tech is still experimental — AIME hasn’t even interacted with actual patients yet — so don’t expect to use it any time soon to figure out why your throat hurts. Plus, there are the standard concerns that come with any AI — hallucinationsbiases, etc.—QH