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What Will AI Help Us With Next?

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by Barbara Walz, RN, BSN, CDE | Feb 06, 2018

Happy New Years to everyone! Now that we are several weeks into our new year, it is time to re-evaluate your progress with your New Year’s resolutions. This is about the time that people start losing interest and dropping out. If you set some changes you wanted to make and are not following through, consider this a reminder to stay the course. 

But that is not what I wanted to share with you today. Last week I borrowed my spouse’s car to run an errand. The radio was on a talk show format and before I could change it to my style of music an interview caught my attention. The talk show host was interviewing a professor from Rice University - Moshe Vardi. Dr. Vardi is considered an expert on Artificial Intelligence and Automation. He was asked what “invention” had the biggest impact on the 20th century. He replied that he felt the creation of the automobile had the biggest impact – leading to other forms of transportation and bringing the world closer together. For the 21st century, Dr. Vardi feels it is Artificial Intelligence (AI). He explained that machines can now rely on “learned” intuition, overcoming an AI paradox called Polanyi’s Paradox. Briefly described, the paradox is described as “We can know more than we can tell, i.e. many of the tasks we perform rely on tacit, intuitive knowledge that is difficult to codify and automate.” The paradox is in answer to the idea of computers, automation and AI replacing humans. There is a lot of literature on AI available if you want to learn more. 


I began thinking about Artificial Intelligence and how it is changing the diabetes world


The topic of the radio discussion was focused on self-driving cars. Dr. Vardi explained that most car accidents are due to driver error – speeding, not stopping in time, recklessly changing lanes. He felt that AI used in driving would greatly reduce these issues.

As I listened, I began thinking about Artificial Intelligence and how it is changing the diabetes world. I have a friend/colleague with long-time type 1 diabetes. She is an “early adopter,” trying everything as soon as it becomes available. She has worked for a variety of pharmaceutical companies and I consider her to be “in the know.” Despite all the gizmos and gadgets she has had access to, her A1C was still not at goal. Not that it was “bad” but it could have been better—until several months ago when she tried the new hybrid insulin pump.

She was a bit wary after trying to achieve normoglycemia while maintaining a normal lifestyle for many years. A couple of months ago, she was sharing her new pump features with me. She said that although it took about three to four weeks for her pump to get to know her, now her glucose is 110-115 the vast majority of the time.

I have noticed this with my clinic patients also. When you ask them for their basal rates, they usually don’t know off hand. They must look at their pump to see what AI has determined as the best basal for them. A lot of error has been eliminated. The 21st century should prove to be significant in our quest for correcting diabetes problems. I look forward to seeing what other advancements the future holds for us. 


Barbara WalzAbout the Author

Barbara Walz is an RN, BSN and has been a certified diabetes educator since 1986. Since 2000, Barbara has coordinated a multi-site diabetes study examining the macro-vascular effects of diabetes at the South Texas Veterans’ Healthcare System under the supervision of Dr. Ralph DeFronzo.

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