Creative Enquiry: Compassion in the age of intelligent machines
We are already surrounded by intelligent machines; from Google to Siri to Alexa, they pervade every aspect of our personal lives. But have you stopped to think about their impact on your working life in primary care? Having a keen research interest in how artificial intelligence will shape the future of general practice, this is a thought that both excites and concerns me in equal measure. On the one hand I see the positive benefits of increased efficiency; freeing our time to spend with those patients who really need us. I am also passionate about the potential for better outcomes through improved equity in the provision of care. But through this naïve excitement pervades a lingering mistrust, fuelled by a deep personal understanding of the importance of compassion in medicine, as practitioner, patient and carer. This thought experiment explores these and other themes arising from the integration of novel technologies into primary care. By recounting the fictional experience of a day working as a GP in the not-too-distant future, the topic becomes more accessible and personal to the audience, who may empathise with many of the situations. This account challenges the audience to reassess their own relationships with technology and the impact it might have on their future lives, both as practitioners and as patients.