Technology has been a substitute teacher for much of the world in recent times. As the pandemic locked people inside, learning and knowledge exchange had to happen digitally. But could a needs must scenario now become the best choice for teaching surgeons?
Possibly. Because in a study carried out by the Neurosurgical Simulation and Artificial Intelligence Learning Centre at The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) medical students tasked with carrying out virtual brain tumour removals performed significantly better with AI instruction than with a remote instructor. They performed 36% better and 2.6 times faster than their counterparts who received expert support remotely.
Called Virtual Operative Assistant (VOA), the AI-powered tutor system leaned on a machine learning algorithm to teach technique and offer tailored feedback. Assessing students’ performance a panel of experts and a deep learning Intelligent Continuous Expertise Monitoring System (ICEMS) found that those taught by AI didn’t suffer what many researchers had feared, namely ‘greater stress’ levels and an increased ‘negative emotion’ from learning this way.
“Artificially intelligent tutors like the VOA may become a valuable tool in the training of the next generation of neurosurgeons,” says Dr Rolando Del Maestro, the study’s senior author. “The VOA significantly improved expertise while fostering an excellent learning environment.”
Ali Fazlollahi, the first author of the new study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA Network Open), added that what makes this form of intelligent tutoring system so effective is it can “use a variety of simulation platforms to provide almost unlimited chances for repetitive practice without the constraints imposed by the availability of supervision.”
Accelerating towards an AI world
This is just the latest example of how AI has the potential to reshape everyday reality. Last month another Canadian study revealed that AI technology can outperform staff when it comes to monitoring the nutrient intake of residents in long-term care.
While even in the creative world AI is increasingly seen as a ‘tool that is going to disrupt the arts and entertainment space fundamentally’. Claudia Rinke, an award-winning and bestselling author and screenwriter, is an expert contributor to Innovators Magazine. She says that “machines could replace human storytellers, just like self-driving cars could take over the roads”. Something Rinke insists should come with a health warning, especially when remembering what Plato said, is that ‘those who tell the stories rule society’.