AI: Treatment vs Cure

2024, July 7    

AI is everywhere... from complex speech recognition using LLMs through to a toaster (yes, this exists). A question that comes to mind when thinking about the use of AI by large organisations, is what problem are they trying to solve? When it comes to the health / pharmaceutical industries, the answer may not be as easy as you think.

While there are ongoing efforts to eradicate some diseases (see link at the bottom of this page), how about eradicating serious (or not) medical issues to impact millions of people daily. As an example, heart disease caused by arterial clogging, what work is underway using the power of AI, to create a cure vs a treatment? How about dental plaque? Given it impacts billions of people worldwide, having a cure that prevents plaque build-up in the first place (and efficiently destroys any existing) would prevent millions of dental surgeries that place every year.

The truth, unfortunately, is that with the current model of business it makes zero sense for the pharmaceutical industries to cure a disease vs provide continuous treatment of it. Repeat business means repeat profit (if done correctly), while a single sale (that has to be in a price range the purchaser can work with) means only a single sale. This mimics a a wider industry trend of moving to a subscription model to ensure continued income, vs the perpetual 'you have it for life'. On that, I do wonder if the IT industry learned this from the pharma industry (given timelines of adoption).

Hopefully (though probably not in my lifetime), the focus will shift and the majority usage of AI in these industries will switch to eradicating medical issues / impacts permanently, where the people of said industries who find themselves out of a job don't harbor resentment / don't mind the reskill (or retirement). One can dream...

Article: Profit made from cancer treatment drugs

Article: The worldwide eradication of diseases