Former Google CEO says artificial intelligence won't replace your doctor

  • Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt doesn't think that doctors will be replaced by computers, and stressed that he'd want a human calling the shots but supported by technology.
  • He described the health care ecosystem as still being stuck in the "stone age," given its reliance on ancient technology such as fax machines and pagers, and urged the industry to move to the cloud and hire more engineers.
Chairman of Alphabet Eric Schmidt
Photo by Axel Schmidt
Chairman of Alphabet Eric Schmidt

Former Alphabet executive Eric Schmidt has strong opinions about how modern computing will change medicine — or not.

At a healthcare conference on Monday, he said he doesn't fully buy into the vision of artificial intelligence replacing doctors, unlike some of his Silicon Valley counterparts, notably Vinod Khosla.

Instead, he would want a "human in the loop" if he were sick, but one who had the latest technologies at their disposal to help with their decision-making.

Computers can play a role in spitting out useful information, like predicting a bad outcome before it happens, but ultimately he'd want a human in charge, Schmidt said.

To ensure that doctors and nurses have access to the right data, whether it is labs, images or notes, Schmidt spoke about the importance of open standards. He referenced a new software tool from Alphabet's cloud unit, Google Cloud, that helps health institutions pull together important medical data.

Despite these efforts, he described the health care ecosystem as still being stuck in the "stone age," given its reliance on ancient technology such as fax machines and pagers.

To combat that, he encouraged the attendees at the HIMSS healthcare conference to consider moving to the cloud and hire more engineers.