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Post Thoughts on AI Today; UK Emergency Health Services
Created by John Eipper on 05/15/18 7:24 AM

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Thoughts on AI Today; UK Emergency Health Services (John Heelan, UK, 05/15/18 7:24 am)

I bow to Istvan Simon's greater knowledge of the AI world as it is today (14 May). Not only am I hopelessly out of date technically, despite a close friend also having a PhD in cybernetics, but also when talking to today's more advanced practitioners in the computing world (some in my family), I realise that my level of knowledge is Stone Age in computing terms.

My worry is that we are becoming too reliant on the promises of technology that are often not forthcoming. A good example in the UK is the emergency health services. If unwell I am encouraged to ring 111. However, if I do so, I am confronted with a retrained Call Centre clerk attempting to diagnose my level of emergency from a script on his/her screen.

Another emergency service if the Fire Brigade. Locally there is confusion when a "blues and twos" shout is directed to a village called Niton (pronounced "Nye-ton" when it should have gone to similar-sounding Knighton. Local dispatchers have learned to ask "is that Niton or K-nighton"? Would AI be able to ask the question of understand the spoken answer from somebody whose house was in danger of being consumed by flames?

My wife recently had to call an ambulance for an elderly man who had fallen and damaged his leg. The dispatcher was not even aware that our village was on the Isle of Wight, delaying the arrival of the paramedics for an extra half an hour.

JE comments:  The UK 111 is our 911.  This could be the start of an interesting comparative discussion.  What are some WAISer experiences with emergency help lines?  How about the wait times in different nations and regions?  Several weeks ago in Delaware, my Aunt Doris needed emergency assistance.  The 911 paramedics arrived in about 5 minutes.  Bravo to them.


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  • Emergency Services in Russia (Istvan Simon, USA 05/22/18 9:55 AM)
    I share John Heelan's concerns regarding an over-reliance on technology (most recently, May 15th). Whether or not the UK's 111 system is a good move or not, I cannot say, and it is quite possible that it is a blunder. Only time will tell.

    Recently I saw a report on emergency services in Russia, in which they specialized people for certain kinds of emergency with the idea that it would make the system more responsive and efficient. I am not sure if this was entirely a documentary, or somewhat fictionalized. It followed one very conscientious emergency medical technician, who refused to follow that new rules and it seemed for very good reasons. He risked being fired, yet he did not follow the new manager's orders.


    In this program all emergency personnel viewed the move as stupid and detrimental to emergency quality of service. Yet they were ignored by management, The rules that John mentioned seemed somewhat similar to the measures that appear in the program in Russia, though they did not seem to have any AI program involved. But the gist of the new rules was that the dispatcher was supposed to select the correct crew for each emergency, and that an emergency call was supposed to be concluded in a limited amount of time. If the emergency was not resolved within the allotted time, the crew was supposed to leave and another crew dispatched to the scene to continue their work. This was considered particularly stupid, and at odds with the needs of patients.


    The program John Heelan describes in the UK has some similarities to the Russian one, namely the dispatcher in both systems making complex decisions that she or he is ill-equipped to make, whether assisted by an AI program or not.


    JE comments:  I hope Cameron Sawyer will weigh in.  How could it be more efficient to send a second, "replacement" crew to an emergency?  For starters, think of the learning curve involved with each incident.

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