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Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Despite AI advances, human interaction still important

Rika Kayama

The other day an acquaintance 12 years my junior invited me to a dinner party. Aside from my friend, there were hardly any other people I knew who would be attending, so I did hesitate quite a bit, but I was finally convinced by the words, "Everyone is nice, you'll be fine." At the venue restaurant, my acquaintance introduced me to a variety of people, and thanks to that, I was able to enjoy the food and conversation.

    When I was about to say, "Thank you, I'm glad I came," my friend mumbled, "If you don't meet face-to-face and have dinner from time to time, you really don't understand what's going on with your friends after all." When I heard that, I burst out laughing. My friend is active in an internet-related business! Even someone like my acquaintance wouldn't say "the internet is enough!"

    Recently, artificial intelligence (AI) technology is progressing rapidly, and even in my field of medicine, devices that do things such as automatically analyzing the results of a test are being developed. "AI can process an enormous amount of data and make more objective decisions than humans, so they are probably way more accurate than us," one of my fellow doctors said. "Someday, if AI is able to automatically diagnose and prescribe medicine for illnesses, there will be no need for us doctors anymore, huh?" replied another doctor, nodding.

    But, I wonder if that's actually true. Just like the dinner party, no matter how far AI technology grows, won't the importance of "doctors and patients meeting in person" remain in the end? Even if a robot doctor who looked exactly like a human said, "If you take this medicine, you will be cured. It's fine," I don't think the words would resonate with the patient, would they?

    A wide range of fields are being increasingly automated and mechanized, but shouldn't we also be thinking of reasons why humans working together are still more desirable? On top of that, as much as AI may excel at something, wouldn't the majority of fields conclude, "No, as suspected, we need humans no matter what?"

    When I discussed this topic with a young college student, they said, laughing, "You say that because you're afraid that you'll be replaced by AI, right? I think you are expecting too much from humans." The same student declared that AI players were stronger in shogi than humans. While that may certainly be true, aren't players left with the feeling that it would be more fun to play against a human opponent who makes mistakes from time to time?

    Well, do you fall into the group that while praising the internet and AI technology, still think that you "want to go drinking with other people from time to time after all?" Or do you believe that "there is no need for human meetings?" The time when we must ponder such science fiction-like questions is finally upon us. (By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)

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