The Promethean Myth that we will end up creating a technology that will destroy us appears to be deeply engrained in our human psyche. More and more I am beginning to hear orthodontists say, “the machines are getting smarter, and pretty soon, they’ll come for us.” I prefer not to operate on superstition.
If we are being honest, automation is a problem that we all love to have because it frees us up to do more vital and productive things in our businesses and lives. Greater efficiency through automation is the essence of why we train our orthodontic teams and develop our own clinical systems. It seems to me that the intuitions we have about machine learning, Invisalign, algorithms, automation, etc. are somewhat poorly formed. Technology exists to augment our abilities, not to replace them.
In orthodontics, and in just about every industry, we will need to learn to embrace our non-human co-workers, who will be gathering data and helping us direct patient care. Humans and computers are good at very different things, and a healthy give and take between man and machine will become standard operating procedure.
Artificial intelligence is not the end of the specialty, it is a source of empowerment. However, it is our responsibility to adapt and take advantage of the opportunities ahead.