“What’s the problem you’re trying to solve?” Clayton Christensen, the late Harvard business professor, was famous for posing this aphoristic question to aspiring entrepreneurs.
By asking it, he was teaching those in earshot an important lesson: Innovation, alone, isn’t the end goal. To succeed, ideas and products must address fundamental human problems.
This is especially true in healthcare, where artificial intelligence is fueling the hopes of an industry desperate for better solutions.
But here’s the problem: Tech companies too often set out to create AI innovations they can sell, rather than trying to understand the problems doctors and patients need solved. At many traditional med-tech conferences and trade shows, for example, talks and sales pitches focus squarely on the technology while routinely overlooking the human fears and frustrations that AI can address.
Because of this failure to prioritize human needs above business interests, medicine’s most-hyped AI applications have, repeatedly, failed to move the needle on public health, patient safety or healthcare costs.
Fortunately, humanistic problem-solving will take center stage at the upcoming South by Southwest (SXSW) conference and festival in Austin, Texas, from March 13-22. At this alternative cultural event, where hip musical acts overlap with indie film premiers, some 70,000+ conference attendees can find dozens of AI panels and presentations designed to put people first.
“Addressing the challenges and opportunities around how technology affects our community is hugely important,” said Hugh Forrest, Chief Programming Officer at SXSW. “From privacy to blockchain to AI to MedTech, using this lens to filter how we look at a lot of issues facing modern society allows us to connect the dots in a deeper way. Especially in the case of an area like AI, where there’s quite a bit of uncertainty and fear, we also want to showcase how these innovations can be ethical and improve lives.”
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