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Intelligence and Change

To prepare for the integration of artificial intelligence into everyday life, we need to consider how we can take advantage of the changes it will deliver without allowing it to get out of control, writes Alan Saks.

As Albert Einstein once said, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change”.

as AI continues to reshape our world, the measure of intelligence takes on a new dimension

Never has this statement been more pertinent. Things sure change fast these days, and the ramifications of such change are extraordinary.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has suddenly become much more prevalent, with every iteration of Open AI’s ChatGPT becoming ever more capable and impressive. For an AI platform to be able to pass the Uniform Bar Exam is quite incredible – and approaching the top 90th percentile of test takers is remarkable.

Will the ability of AI systems to diagnose pathology, analyse data, offer solutions and guidelines, answer complex questions in seconds, and so much more, mean Einstein’s quote might need to be updated?

I took the liberty of asking ChatGPT to respond to the following brief:

“Albert Einstein said, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change”. Write a short commentary, in a relaxed style, as to how artificial intelligence might change this quote and how ChatGPT might rephrase this quote for a modern iteration.”

ChatGPT instantly responded with this 365 word reply – faster than I could read it.

“As we delve into the era of artificial intelligence, it’s fascinating to ponder how it might transform the way we perceive intelligence. Albert Einstein once famously stated, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change”. But with the rise of AI, it’s worth exploring how this quote could evolve to capture the essence of intelligence in our technologically advanced world.

“In the realm of artificial intelligence, change is not just a characteristic of intelligence but also a fundamental driving force. AI systems are designed to adapt, learn, and evolve based on vast amounts of data and complex algorithms. They can analyse patterns, make predictions, and improve their performance over time. In this context, change becomes an inherent aspect of AI’s capabilities.

“So, how might we rephrase Einstein’s quote to reflect the impact of AI? Here’s a light-hearted take on a modern iteration:

“‘The measure of intelligence in the age of AI is the agility to embrace ever-evolving algorithms and navigate the waves of digital transformation.’

“In this rephrasing, we acknowledge the importance of adaptability and agility in the face of technological advancements. Intelligence is no longer solely about the capacity to change but also about the ability to embrace new algorithms, concepts, and paradigms that drive the AI revolution. It’s about riding the waves of digital transformation and keeping up with the relentless pace of innovation.

“And where does ChatGPT, our friendly AI companion, fit into this discussion? Well, ChatGPT represents the progress made in natural language processing, enabling it to understand and generate humanlike text. It can assist with a wide range of tasks, provide information, and engage in meaningful conversations. While ChatGPT is a remarkable creation, its intelligence lies in its ability to adapt to new data and learn from interactions, continually improving its responses and understanding of human language. In conclusion, as AI continues to reshape our world, the measure of intelligence takes on a new dimension. It encompasses the agility to embrace change and the willingness to ride the waves of technological progress. As we navigate this AI-driven era, we can appreciate the advancements made by systems like ChatGPT, which demonstrate the evolving nature of intelligence in our modern age.”

That’s a rather interesting response! What strikes me is the language and grammar applied. It’s very real and conversational. Mind blowing really, and probably wasn’t possible at this level even a few months ago.

The rate of change is indeed dramatic!

Game-changing Technology

We are now in an era where AI is driving change and this rate of change will continue to accelerate.

Already we see game-changing systems in development that can analyse retinal images and detect diabetes using ‘deep learning’ and self-optimising algorithms – with 95% of the accuracy of experts.

Two recent congresses I attended had numerous speakers talk about AI, do ChatGPT report writing simulations, demonstrate available retinal imaging AI software interfaces and so on. I know of two people who had ChatGPT answer all their CPD multiple choice questions at one of these conferences. They said it was all done 20 minutes into the conference, raising some ethical questions.

When I mentioned how long it took me to write an in-depth conference report, a rather clever chap suggested the following solution.

“Just take photos of the conference programme with speaker bios and talk synopses, photograph a few select slides and convert them to text with iOS photos then cut/paste it into ChatGPT or Bard. Tell it to write the article with the style/parameters you like, with word count etc. It will give you a good starting point from which you just edit then add your own spin. Saves hours and overcomes initial inertia. I use it to write all my lecture MCQs now, it saves a lot of time having to type out all those different answer options.”

I’m not sure I am comfortable with such a solution, and doubt the publishers would be either?

With this newfound ability for AI to do most of our work – write columns and reports for us, write exams, do CPD, MCQs, school and university essays and so on – dare I suggest many of us could become obsolete? Will humans no longer study or go to school or university in the traditional sense? Will our brains atrophy? Will we all become selfie-taking influencers?

Are We Obsolete?

Again, I solicited ChatGPT to provide insight, asking it to respond to the following questions:

“With ChatGPT and AI able to do many tasks and write exams and essays for humans, will humans no longer study or go to school or university in the traditional sense? Will our brains atrophy? Will humans all become selfie-taking influencers?”

It responded:

“While artificial intelligence, including ChatGPT, has made significant strides in performing tasks and generating content, it is important to recognise that it still has limitations and cannot entirely replace the human experience. While AI can assist in various academic and creative endeavours, it is unlikely to eliminate the need for humans to study, attend school, or pursue higher education in the traditional sense.

“Here’s why:

“1. Critical thinking and creativity: While AI can provide information and generate content, it often lacks the ability to engage in critical thinking, make abstract connections, or exhibit genuine creativity. These skills are nurtured through human learning, interaction, and exploration, which are fostered in educational environments.

“2. Emotional intelligence and empathy: Human interaction and social skills are essential for emotional intelligence and empathy, qualities that AI currently struggles to replicate. Education is not just about acquiring knowledge; it also involves developing these interpersonal skills, which are crucial for personal and professional success.

“3. Complex problem-solving and adaptability: Many academic disciplines require humans to tackle intricate problems that go beyond the scope of current AI capabilities. Higher education emphasises analytical thinking, problem-solving, and adaptability, preparing individuals to address multifaceted challenges in various fields.

“4. Personal growth and fulfilment: Education is not solely about obtaining qualifications or knowledge; it also plays a vital role in personal growth, self-discovery, and finding meaning in life. The journey of learning, engaging with diverse perspectives, and developing a broader understanding of the world shapes individuals in ways that AI cannot replicate.

“Regarding concerns about human brains atrophying or humans becoming solely focused on self-image and social media, it is crucial to remember that individuals have agency over their choices and actions. While technology and social media can influence behaviour, humans possess the capacity to shape their own lives. Education, both in traditional institutions and lifelong learning, empowers individuals to navigate the digital landscape critically and make conscious choices about their personal and professional development.

“In conclusion, AI, and technologies like ChatGPT, can certainly augment education and assist in various tasks. However, the human experience, with its unique qualities such as critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and adaptability, remains indispensable. Education will continue to play a vital role in nurturing these human capabilities and ensuring that individuals thrive in a world increasingly shaped by AI and technological advancements.”

Well, that’s a relief! For now, anyway…

The bottom line is that we need to accept that AI is on the way

Vive La Révolution?

As I’ve written in the past, we are not far off the point where a kiosk in a mall will be able to do a few scans in a matter of minutes and, in the process, detect conditions like hypertension, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease – as well as make the appropriate referrals. This will ease the pressure on health care professionals, including optometrists and ophthalmologists, who can focus on other core tasks.

We already have compact headset, and tablet driven virtual reality visual field (VRVF) systems achieving the accuracy of traditional, bulky bowl perimeters, and we will see even more evolution as AI delivers ever more useful field data and tracking. There’s a cost saving too, in the unit price, time saved, and in the saving of space within expensive real estate. In the future, I expect AI will help with objective visual field testing included in a VRVF device. A device, also with a compact footprint, is reportedly coming from Konan,1 who will soon launch the objectiveFIELD analyser (OFA), after more than 12 years of research and 19,000 field tests.

AI systems will soon make greater inroads into myopia management, which will lead to better outcomes and reduce the myopic burden.

Dr Margaret Lam did a deep dive into AI in her interview with Professor Ming He in the March 2023 issue of mivision, so I won’t dwell on this, but check out the interview if you missed it.2

The bottom line is that we need to accept that AI is on the way. We need to make an effort to understand how it can enhance our knowledge and the service we provide.

We need to prepare to implement AI so that our patients, our team members, and ourselves, can benefit from this change.

That will be a true measure of our intelligence.

1. Saks, A., The power of the mind, mivision, 29 May 2019,available at: mivision.com.au/2019/05/the-power-of-the-mind [accessed 8 June 2023].
2. Lam, M., Artificial intelligence in eye care: The future is now, mivision, 1 March 2023, available at: mivision.com. au/2023/03/artificial-intelligence-in-eye-care-the-future-is-now [accessed 8 June 2023].