Joe Ayling: Not put out by machine learning
Author: Joe Ayling, deputy editor
Artificial intelligence poses both a threat and an opportunity to us all.
In years to come, for example, might this magazine be generated by computer software able to decipher press releases and import relevant images and graphics from the web?
Transcription tools are now readily available, but hopefully GDPR will hold up any threat of interview robots automatically programmed to speed-dial high street practices for reaction to breaking news stories.
Even this very article might be susceptible to algorithms scanning through back issues and page clicks from Optician Online. But then where’s the fun in that?
At some point, the involvement of actual people remains essential and the optical profession has an even greater need for human intervention – as explored by this week’s In Focus.
While the availability of a database of retinal images to flag up common eye conditions does no harm, it will be some time before this replaces a thorough eye examination.
Nevertheless, gathering data and intelligence can only help eye care professionals free up time for patient care and extra services, while Specsavers’ investment in OCT at scale could be a game changer for artificial intelligence within optics.
Therefore, the future for diagnosing conditions such as glaucoma, AMD and diabetic retinopathy is likely to rely on well-trained optometrists with ‘clinical decision-making assistants’ right by their side.
And there isn’t a computer in circulation able to calculate that level of compromise.