AI: Next Frankenstein Creation or the Next Best Thing?
Featuring Dr. Sergei Azernikov
Between the crystal ball statements of revered business mogul Elon Musk, and the Nostradamus vibes that came from world-renowned scientist Stephen Hawking, it’s hard not to believe that we’re currently in the process of creating our own demise with artificial intelligence (AI).
Perhaps the greatest influencer of our portrayal of AI is sci-fi movies that feature a twisted narrative of a Dr. Frankenstein-style operation, complete with a feared and despised creation. Though there’s a lot to address with AI before it entirely infiltrates our world, reality is quite different from what we see in the movies.
Understanding How AI Works
“Machines are trained off the data that we provide them with,” says Dr. Sergei Azernikov, machine learning team lead at Glidewell Dental, when referencing his company’s decision to get involved with AI.
Glidewell’s new chairside restorative ecosystem, the glidewell.io™ In-Office Solution, is driven largely by AI and the company’s innovative fastdesign.io™ Software.
In a matter of milliseconds, the fastdesign.io Software scans through millions of images of teeth, from which to auto-propose the perfect design for a patient’s restoration. Once approved by the doctor, the design can be submitted to the lab digitally, or sent directly to the fastmill.io™ In-Office Unit for fabrication within minutes, eliminating the need for a second appointment. It’s this sort of convenience that has people excited about the prospects of AI, in this and other industries.
Rather than ominous alien pods, the machines responsible for this endeavor look more like standard desktops with electric blue stripes running down the sides.
While the computers don’t exactly look like they should be starring as sci-fi villains, Azernikov is quick to point out they shouldn’t be underestimated. This type of AI might not look very intimidating, but a neural network with a substantial number of layers can replicate human-like intelligence.
Azernikov doesn’t expect Glidewell’s use of AI to go rogue anytime soon, though. Instead, he says that these machines are vessels filled with science and math.
“We’re not in the business of performing magic or illusions. AI does what it is trained to do. If people corrupt it or don’t properly equip it to do its job, it’s our fault, because we are the ones who train it. To protect our future, we have the moral responsibility to ensure this technology is used for betterment of society,” he argues.
Evaluating Potential Issues
Right now, Azernikov believes the most pertinent issue is solving current technical and social problems associated with AI.
“Take self-driving cars for instance. There have been several cases where the machine has failed to recognize a dangerous situation, which reflects back on the fact that we need to work to better prepare AI with the information and equipment that it needs to succeed. The problem is, it isn’t always immediately clear how to do that,” he acknowledges.
Although all the kinks are still being worked out with AI, we live in a world where adaptability is paramount. Azernikov warns that businesses don’t have time to be slow adopters, because others are going to grab every competitive advantage available. As computational power becomes increasingly more accessible, the market is wide open to crafty competitors.
Adapting to the Future
While Glidewell is a leader in the dental industry now, the company understands that it’s important to stay ahead of the game.
“Ten years ago, it would be hard to envision that a dental lab would be using AI, but here we are, continuing to test the boundaries of what we can do. In terms of quality control and automation, we are on the cutting-edge of the future of dentistry,” Azernikov says.
Technological developments in the dental industry like the ones Glidewell is making are intended to help doctors treat more patients in less time. Given that inconvenience is commonly held as one of the principal barriers to patient acceptance, the ability to provide a same-day restorative service presents significant advantages. What’s more, automation tends to be more precise, more consistent, and helps to reduce costs, improving affordability.
While there are certainly issues to address with AI, these machines hold the power to make our lives better, whether that’s through early detection of disease, or helping us spend more time with our family by automating the process of mundane tasks.
Rather than fearing what will come over the next few years, people should continue to explore, create, push boundaries, and use AI to benefit our world.