Can AI Help Us Achieve Wellness?

Jul 7, 2023

Many of us do not associate Artificial Intelligence (AI) with major changes happening in the medical field, both in remedial and preventive care to wellness. The use of AI in virtual and remote healthcare, including telemetry, image analysis, and physical settings like robotic surgery, has enhanced the effectiveness and reliability of healthcare.

In the realm of physical health, many of us may know how wearables aided by AI are helping with heart conditions and diabetes. Present-day pacemaker defibrillators wirelessly linked to a network monitor the heart functions of millions worldwide. These devices monitor and diagnose and kick in to remedy potentially fatal conditions. Other forms of wearables are monitoring pulse rates, blood pressure, and even some ECG associated with heart wellness. These are now commonplace in some watches.

Non-invasive diabetic wearables are commonplace today. They tell us about how what we do, in eating, drinking, exercising, and many other activities, affects our blood sugar levels, monitoring and diagnosing them through algorithms. This will soon lead to treatment through injectables and skin absorption devices. Almost everyone is serious about fitness monitors themselves with recorders, most in-built into phones and watches now. Connected to computers, these provide valuable data to healthcare professionals in diagnosis and treatment.

In a few years, as smartphone usage and internet availability continue to rise, most of our population will likely be wired into AI wellness networks. Barring those who value privacy over life, most may choose to have these devices and networks gather data on our physical and mental activities. These data points will lead to guidance on what we can do better in terms of breathing, eating, drinking, exercising, working, relaxing, and enjoying from a wellness perspective. Ultimately, the locus of control will still be with us.

An area of research, controversial from ethical perspectives, as all AI is to some extent, is Affective Computing. This covers multiple areas of monitoring, diagnosing, and providing inputs on changing physiological sensations, emotions, sentiments, speech, and action.  It utilizes modalities like brain-computer interface, approved by the US FDA. Though like a knife in a surgeon’s or a murderer’s hands, these can have varying consequences. It is doubtful if any of these research outcomes can be reversed, stopped, or controlled. The power lies in the hands of the user.

In the future, anyone can use facial recognition, emotional map, voice analysis, sensory analysis, and multiple other modalities through wearables to glean information about how one thinks, feels, speaks, and acts. With guidance, it can lead to awareness and corrective action through relaxation, meditation, exercises, and other customized solutions.

Everyone can coach themselves. There may be no need for therapy, counseling, or coaching barring exceptions. The future is here. However, what Freud called the superego would be needed, the discrimination between right and wrong. Education and coaching would be needed to build a mindset aligning with the 5 yama factors of the Yogic philosophy: non-violence, truthful attitude, simple living, not coveting what the other has, and journeying with a meaningful purpose. This would be coaching the spirit.

Reflection

  • Many wish to ban or limit AI, though some of these people are active in AI development. Where is this hypocrisy coming from?
  • AI can aid us in many life-saving and life-changing ways. Yet there are ethical issues. What may be the way forward?
Ram Ramanathan, MCC
Ram Ramanathan, MCC

Ram

Ram is the Founder and a Principal at Coacharya. As the resident Master and mentor coach, Ram oversees and conducts all aspects of coaching and training services offered under the Coacharya banner.

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