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A future without doctors?

A future without doctors?

Update: 2021-08-1948


We discuss if artificial intelligence could replace human doctors and nurses.
Comments (3)


hello. how can I find the transcript of each part in castbox? is it possible? I mean I don't want to use 6minutesenglish app or website.

Sep 4th

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Neil Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I’m Neil. Sam And I’m Sam. Neil Are you feeling well, Sam? No headache or sore throat? Sam No, I feel fine thanks, Neil. Why do you ask? Neil Well, I’ve been reading some inspirational stories about the doctors and nurses fighting Covid. When I was a boy, I always dreamed of becoming a doctor. Sam Ah, I see. Have you ever been in hospital? Neil Yes, I have, and I remember the nurse’s bedside manner – you know, the kind and caring way that doctors and nurses treat people who are ill. Sam Nowadays more and more of the jobs that humans do are being carried out by machines. But I doubt that a doctor’s bedside manner could easily be replaced by a robot. Neil In this programme, we’ll be discussing whether the revolution in artificial intelligence, often shortened to ‘AI’, could replace human doctors and nurses. We’ll be asking: can you imagine a future without doctors? Sam In fact, machines are already doing some of the jobs traditionally done by doctors - scanning people’s bodies to detect skin cancer, for example. Neil Yes, that’s true, Sam, and it links to my quiz question which is about human skin. It’s a well-known fact that skin is the human body’s largest organ – but how much skin does the average adult have? Is it: a) 2 square metres?, b) 3 square metres? or, c) 4 square metres? Sam Of course our skin gets loose as we age but I can’t believe there’s 3 square metres of it! I’ll say the answer is a) 2 square metres. Neil OK, we’ll find out if that’s correct later. Every year in the UK over 5 million people are treated for skin cancer. Catch it early and your chances of survival are increased. Sam Usually a skin specialist, or dermatologist, will examine your skin using a handheld microscope. But in 2017, a team of researchers at Stanford Medical School made an exciting announcement. Neil Here’s Oxford University researcher Daniel Susskind, telling BBC World Service programme, The Big Idea, what the medics at Stanford had invented: Daniel Susskind A team of researchers at Stamford last year announced the development of a system that, if you give it a photo of a freckle it can tell you as accurately as twenty-one leading dermatologists whether or not that freckle is cancerous. Sam The Stanford medical team had invented an AI system to analyse freckles – small brown spots found on people’s skin, especially on pale skin. Neil As it turned out the AI programme was better than human doctors at telling whether a freckle was harmless or cancerous – connected to some type of cancer. Sam So, it seems that artificial intelligence is already replacing humans when it comes to detecting cancer – and doing a better job of it. Neil But Daniel Susskind isn’t convinced. One reason is that AI systems still need humans to programme them – and as it turns out, knowing exactly how doctors detect illness remains something of a mystery. Sam Here’s Daniel Susskind again in conversation with BBC World Service programme, The Big Idea: Daniel Susskind If you ask a doctor how it is they make a diagnosis, they might be able to point you to particularly revealing parts of a reference book or give you a few rules of thumb, but ultimately they’d struggle… they’d say again it requires things like creativity and judgment, and these things are very difficult to articulate – and so traditionally it’s been thought very hard to automate – if a human being can’t explain how they do these special things, where on earth do we begin in writing instructions for a machine to follow? Neil Most doctors find it difficult to explain how they make a diagnosis – their judgement about what someone’s particular sickness is, made by examining them.  Sam Diagnosing someone’s illness is complicated but there are some rules of thumb. A rule of thumb is a practical but approximate way of doing something. Neil For example, when cooking, a good rule of thumb is two portions of water to one portion of rice. Sam Exactly. And because identifying sickness is so difficult, Daniel says “where on earth do we begin writing instructions for a machine?” We use phrases like where, how or what on earth to show feelings like anger, surprise or disbelief.  Neil I might show surprise by asking Sam, ‘how on earth did you know the answer to that?’ Sam Ha ha! I guess you’re talking about your quiz question, Neil? And you needn’t be so surprised – I’m naturally brainy!  Neil  Of course you are. In my quiz question I asked Sam how much skin there is on an adult human body. Sam And I said it was a) 2 square metres. Neil Which was… the correct answer! With your brains I think you’d make a good doctor, Sam, and I’m sure you’d have a good bedside manner too. Sam You mean, the kind and caring way that doctors and nurses treat their patients. OK, let’s recap the rest of the vocabulary, starting with freckle – a small brown spot on someone’s skin.  Neil Freckles are usually harmless, but some skin spots can be cancerous – connected to cancer. Sam A doctor’s diagnosis is their judgement about what someone’s particular sickness or disease is. Neil A rule of thumb is a useful but approximate way of doing or measuring something. Sam And finally, we use phrases like where on earth..? as a way to show emotions like anger, surprise or disbelief. Neil That’s all for this programme but join us for the next edition of 6 Minute English when we’ll discuss another trending topic and the related vocabulary. Sam Why on earth would you miss it? Goodbye for now! Neil Goodbye!

Sep 1st
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A future without doctors?

A future without doctors?

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