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Can't a computer do their job?

  1. Aug 14, 2009 #1
    Can't a computer do their job???

    I was just wondering how computers might be used to replace some jobs in the future. Take pharmacist, for instance. Clearly, an electronic expert system can be used when picking out the right drug.. the pharmacist's job is almost robotic imo.

    Are there any other careers out there that could be in danger of an advanced expert system? Doctors, perhaps?
     
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  3. Aug 14, 2009 #2

    Ben Niehoff

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    Re: Can't a computer do their job???

    Even if a computer system picks out the drug, someone still has to give the patient a consultation. I'm sure most patients are more comfortable talking to a real human being.

    I don't think doctors are in any danger of being replaced by computers, either.
     
  4. Aug 14, 2009 #3
    Re: Can't a computer do their job???

    There are "expert systems" that mimic a doctor's diagnosis procedure, but these obviously cannot replace a doctor. Computer systems are always programmed to consider a limited number of factors, and when you take into account the factors that the computer didn't know about or ignored, the resulting decision could be considered idiotic. I think that an expert system might be a useful tool for doctors, especially during training, but it will not replace them.

    Replacing humans with robots is not necessarily a good thing. Not everybody wants to be a cutting edge scientific researcher....and if you replace all menial jobs with robots, then the only jobs left would be highly theoretical jobs. People enjoy interacting with others, and robot replacements are usually not very good. Who likes talking to recorded voices instead of real telephone operators?
     
  5. Aug 14, 2009 #4

    Wax

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    Re: Can't a computer do their job???

    Computers can malfunction and there will always be someone required to monitor the system. Take airplanes for example. Would you trust technology alone to fly an airplaine without a pilot for you?
     
  6. Aug 14, 2009 #5
    Re: Can't a computer do their job???

    I'm sure computers won't get rid of all of them, but won't it replace a lot of professions?
    You would have people that would "maintain" and see if things go wrong, but you wouldn't need someone to "man" each job, right?

    For instance, robots do most of the manufacturing these days, not humans. However, you have a few people looking over and maintaining the whole factory. But that's way less the number of humans than before automation came along.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2009
  7. Aug 14, 2009 #6

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re: Can't a computer do their job???

    Why can't a computer do that?

    So your point is that nothing will change unless people are comfortable with that change? I see no evidence for that.
     
  8. Aug 14, 2009 #7

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re: Can't a computer do their job???

    There are now lights-out plants, where the lights are turned off during normal operations because no one is there. However, places like that give people like me a job.

    Coming soon: The end of fast-food jobs as we know them.

    One of the stranger jobs that I've had over the last ten years was to write the controls for a burrito-making machine [Taco Bell].
     
  9. Aug 14, 2009 #8

    turbo

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    Re: Can't a computer do their job???

    Things change whether we consumers want the change or not. I have spent a great deal of time trying to get stuff straightened out between SSA and the IRS, and have wasted countless hours listening to recordings telling me how important my call is before eventually getting passed off to some low-level bureaucrat who tells me that they can't help resolve my problem or else gives me advice that directly contradicts the advice that the last low-level bureaucrat gave me. It's terribly frustrating and stressful, and the refusal of the agencies to coordinate has cost me thousands of dollars in unwarranted taxes.
     
  10. Aug 14, 2009 #9
    Re: Can't a computer do their job???

    There already are machines that automatically dispense pills into bottles but somebody has to load the machines and put the labels on the filled bottles. There still would be paper work, requesting refills from doctors and billing insurance. Legally these activities would probably have to be done under the supervision of a pharmacist.
     
  11. Aug 14, 2009 #10

    Evo

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    Re: Can't a computer do their job???

    This might prevent the employees from spitting into your food, but will the machine pick out the roaches and mice that fall into the food before it is served?
     
  12. Aug 14, 2009 #11

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re: Can't a computer do their job???

    I'm confused... Without the roaches and mice, what would be the source of protein?
     
  13. Aug 14, 2009 #12

    Borek

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    Re: Can't a computer do their job???

    Obviously you have not yet meet doctor giving idiotic diagnoses.
     
  14. Aug 14, 2009 #13
    Re: Can't a computer do their job???

    We'd have machines for that as well :D
     
  15. Aug 14, 2009 #14

    turbo

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    Re: Can't a computer do their job???

    Cut-off fingers from the soy processing plant.

    One of my wife's co-workers wanted to eat at Taco Bell a few weeks ago, so she went along. My wife swears that there was no meat in the Taco - only some highly processed "stuff".
     
  16. Aug 14, 2009 #15
    Re: Can't a computer do their job???

    There is a lot more to pharmacy than picking out the right drug.
     
  17. Aug 14, 2009 #16

    Moonbear

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    Re: Can't a computer do their job???

    Indeed. For the most part, counting pills and putting them into bottles IS already a pretty automated process, and likely will become more so once prescriptions are done electronically rather than as scribbled, illegible notes on paper that require phone calls to doctors to interpret. Still, even for that, I'd like to have someone else looking at the pills dispensed to ensure the right ones wound up in the dispenser and no computer malfunction has it completely messed up.

    For patient consultations, you really never can predict entirely what patients are going to want to ask. It takes a human touch to sometimes figure out what they really want to know when they don't know how to ask their question clearly.

    Pharmacists are also adding more to their repertoire as they strive to be more than just pill counters. They can do things like health screenings, teach a newly diagnosed diabetic how to use their glucose monitor, discuss with a patient their choices for over-the-counter medicines that won't have adverse interactions with their prescription medications. And, sometimes they are the person who helps persuade a reluctant customer to return to the doctor for another visit.

    You also need someone who can override a computer that is too rigid. Any computer system is going to have built in safeguards about things like drug interactions and tracking which medications a patient is taking. If a physician switches a prescription before the last one is completely used up, a computer might flag that as a problem, whereas the pharmacist can call the physician and find out that the patient is no longer taking the medication that can cause an interaction. Or, sometimes doctors have good reasons for prescribing things for off-label use, or in unconventional combinations, and again, a computer might prevent that combination while a real person can discuss it and allow it.

    And, most importantly, humans can learn from their customers. Availability of things like prescriptions packaged in individual bubble packs or color-coded labels for customers who have difficulty with traditional pill bottles or reading the labels on them is something fairly recently offered because pharmacists were there to listen to their customers and identify problems with the existing system that needed solutions. Once the computer dispenses a prescription in a childproof bottle to Ms. Smith with arthritis in her hands, she would probably have hard time handing it back and asking for it to be packaged some other way.
     
  18. Aug 14, 2009 #17

    Borek

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    Re: Can't a computer do their job???

    While supervising never hurts, I think chances of human error are much higher than chances of computer screwing up.

    At the same time chances that human will overlook possible interactions are much higher - 1000 active molecules in the drugs means 106 possible interactions. Human will never remember them all, computer will check if some combination is not listed as potentially dangerous in milliseconds. That's what computers are much better at than we.

    I am far from saying pharmacists and doctors are not necessary, but I feel like at least some of the arguments listed so far can be easily reversed, or are in fact counter-arguments.
     
  19. Aug 14, 2009 #18

    Evo

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    Re: Can't a computer do their job???

    My pharmacy is computerized. They have low paid technicians that pour the drugs into the vials that the computer selects and dispenses from. OOOPS. Tech places the wrong meds into a dispenser, wrong medicine gets dispensed, unless a trained pharmacist does the final check to make sure it's right.
     
  20. Aug 14, 2009 #19

    Borek

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    Re: Can't a computer do their job???

    That's human error.

    Besides, how does the pharmacist recognize the problem? Using computerized GC/MS system? Link this system directly to the computer that controls dispensing.
     
  21. Aug 15, 2009 #20
    Re: Can't a computer do their job???

    i more or less agree with moonbear. and i think the biggest issue with computers is that they aren't so well-equipped to determine whether the patient understands the DOS and DON'TS of their prescription. perhaps one day computers will be better than people at reading people, but it doesn't appear that day will be anytime soon.
     
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