By Genni Burkhart
The Terminator movies warned us that machines would take over our lives in the future. It seemed far-fetched at the time, but thanks to advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and the recent buzz around ChatGPT, it's no longer a science fiction story meant to entertain; if not forewarned, it's become our reality.
AI-enabled devices are already used in various industries, from healthcare to finance, manufacturing, and marketing. Mercedes just announced using ChatGPT in their "Hey Mercedes" voice command system, allowing users to engage in "fully interactive conversations" with their vehicles. Does another 1980s television sci-fi icon come to mind?
Given the development of this technology and its infiltration into nearly every aspect of human life, it's beneficial to weigh the risks and rewards that come with this technology and better understand what ChatGPT is and its implications on dentistry.
What is ChatGPT?
Researchers at Open AI developed ChatGPT, which stands for Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer.
According to the developers of this technology, it's a trained model that interacts conversationally. ChatGPT utilizes a dialogue format to respond to follow-up questions, admit mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests. In other terms, it's the realization of human-like thinking abilities in technology.
With ChatGPT, large amounts of data and computing techniques are combined to make meaningful predictions about words. As well as gaining a vast amount of vocabulary and information, they also understand the context of words. By mimicking speech patterns, ChatGPT can convey a comprehensive level of knowledge.
Does this remind you of your favorite robot from a sci-fi novel or movie?
Given the overwhelming cautionary reaction to this new technology, developers have made it a point to emphasize that "Artificial general intelligence has the potential to benefit nearly every aspect of our lives—so it must be developed and deployed responsibly."
Benefits of ChatGPT in Dentistry
Healthcare professionals use ChatGPT for a variety of purposes. In dentistry, it can be used to diagnose diseases, measure disease risk, and schedule appointments. In addition, it can be helpful in the field of scientific research.
The use of AI for panoramic radiographs in dentistry has brought several advantages, including detecting dental and maxillofacial abnormalities and identifying different dental restorations.
It can also be used to detect cavities and track dental treatment progress. It has been used to create 3D models of teeth for restorative and implant planning. ChatGPT has already enabled more accurate diagnoses and treatments for patients, improving the current quality of dental care.
This technology has also made it possible to automate many processes within the dental field, making it more efficient and cost-effective. ChatGPT has the potential to allow dentists to communicate better with patients, providing them with clear explanations of their diagnoses and increasing the likelihood of treatment acceptance.
Ethics of ChatGPT in Medicine
A comprehensive review of the ethics of this technology was published in Cureus, a part of Springer, Nature, in April of this year. This review focused on the ethical impact of ChatGPT in dentistry.
In this study, the authors concluded that using this technology in dentistry to evaluate and maintain treatment can significantly improve patient care and outcomes. And looking towards the future, more AI-driven tools such as this will likely be developed.
However, the authors of this review also caution that skill and training in using these novel systems are vital for the best results.
They also emphasize that using AI-assisted systems without supervision is not recommended and violates medical ethics. Currently, AI-powered techniques in oral healthcare have limitations related to accuracy, expertise, ethical concerns, cost, and regulatory issues. Even so, AI-powered systems in dentistry have already had a significant impact. Training, understanding, and attention to ethics are critical to successfully and safely integrating this technology.
The topic of ChatGPT is abuzz with both excitement and caution.
It's become clear that ChatGPT and AI will continue expanding their potential impact on dentistry, providing valuable knowledge and support to patients, students, and professionals alike. But, caution and awareness are needed regarding the limitations these technologies inevitably have.
Dental professionals must ensure that these models are used responsibly and ethically. Perhaps we must all consider the impact of these technologies on the human experience – from creative work to highly technical jobs to the balance of skill, empathy, and training required of dentists and doctors.
It is ultimately up to humanity to decide whether the long-term implications of technologies such as ChatGPT are in balance with the environment we wish to live in. Society must continue to weigh the pros and cons of such technology, decide if it is worth the risks, and ensure decisions are based on facts and evidence.
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Author: With over 13 years as a published journalist, editor, and writer Genni Burkhart's career has spanned politics, healthcare, law, business finance, technology, and news. She resides on the western shores of the idyllic Puget Sound, where she works as the Editor in Chief for the Incisor at DOCS Education out of Seattle, WA.
- Alhaidry H M, Fatani B, Alrayes J O, et al. (April 30, 2023) ChatGPT in Dentistry: A Comprehensive Review. Cureus 15(4): e38317. doi:10.7759/cureus.38317