Juan David’s Newsletter - March 30th, 2023
The Healing Code of Joan
Last week, I gave a presentation on AI, showcasing its capabilities without discussing how it works or why it matters. I posed questions such as, can AI drive a car, do biology, pass AP exams, call and make a reservation? (hint: yes, AI can do that and much more).
The attendees were shocked, fearful, and resistant. Instead of excitement and liberation, they felt despair.
This inspired me to travel into the future and find someone who would share their story.
I found Joan and what follows is a transcript of her words. It’s her journey from college to her struggles with AI, and her life in the future.
Joan, if you’re reading this, thank you. I hope to see you again soon.
The Healing Code of Joan
If you prefer, you can read this essay on my website.
My name is Joan Lekuta, and a decade ago, I was a biology major. In 2023, the GPT thing, otherwise known as Artificial Intelligence (AI), made its first appearance at my university, and I thought it was ridiculous and refused to use it. However, as my graduation drew near, things took a strange turn. The GPT became increasingly sophisticated, effortlessly outclassing my abilities in virtually every aspect.
My heart sank when I heard that the GPT thing had aced the AP Biology Exam with a perfect score of 5. I had taken the same exam and only managed to get a 4. And don't get me started on my SAT score. Nevertheless, I graduated in 2023, burnt out from my biology classes, and yearned to take a year off to make money and secretly contemplate whether this AI thing would take off.
You see, ever since I was a little girl, I had dreamt of becoming a doctor, and now that I look back, my immigrant parents influenced the fuck out of my decision. Their aspirations propelled me toward becoming pre-med. But you know, the "immigrant mentality" of doing better than our parents. I was born here, and shit and I grew up hearing about my parents' struggles, so I felt like I needed to go to college and become a doctor for my parents. If you don't have immigrant parents, this will sound weird as fuck to you, but to be honest, I truly felt some sort of obligation.
Although I didn't like pre-med, I persevered through physics, genetics, and biochemistry, not to mention organic chemistry, which tossed me around like a dirty towel.
After graduation, I was still unsure of my path. I felt a massive relief about being "done," but I was in the same spot in many ways because I did not know what to do. So yeah, I graduated and did not have the energy to go to med school immediately, so I took a gap year. During that year, I secured a job at a hospital, earning some cash and helping my parents with my siblings while preparing for and taking the MCAT. Meanwhile, I deliberated on whether to pursue med school.
The year is now 2024, and I must make a decision. By now, AI could undoubtedly outperform me. The AI did most of the work, even during my hospital job, making follow-up calls, scheduling appointments, and calling patients. It was calling patients for me!!!! What the actual mother of Asclepius? The AI should have been the one earning that fat paycheck, not me.
As I walked through the hospital halls, I couldn't help but notice how quickly the world was changing around me. Every day, it seemed like there was a new AI tool or app that patients were using to monitor their health and well-being. At first, I scoffed at the idea, thinking it was all a bunch of "bullshit." But as I began to use these new tools and apps myself, I felt my jaw drop in amazement at the sheer power of AI. It was like having a sixth sense, with the ability to detect and diagnose medical conditions with lightning-fast speed and accuracy. I could practically feel the excitement and energy buzzing around me as doctors and patients alike marveled at this incredible technology that seemed to defy the limits of what we thought was possible.
I witnessed firsthand the impressive accuracy and efficiency of these tools. In the early 2020s, there may have been some truth to AI being inaccurate and biased, but it's a different story now. These AI tools are more accurate than any human doctor could ever hope to be. And why is that? Because they are not limited by human biases and errors. These machines are designed to learn and adapt, constantly improving their performance with each new data point they process.
As I listened to these patients, I couldn't help but feel a sense of excitement. The future of medicine was here, and it was brighter than ever. No longer would doctors be burdened with the tedious task of manual data analysis, freeing them up to focus on more meaningful interactions with their patients!
But I also couldn't help but feel a twinge of sadness. What would become of the countless healthcare professionals whose jobs would be replaced by AI?
Yet, amidst this uncertainty, there was a glimmer of hope. A new wave of jobs would emerge, requiring different skills and expertise. I couldn't help but feel excited about the possibilities that lay ahead. The future was uncertain but also full of promise and potential.
After a tedious day of work and feeling restless from binge-watching Netflix, I decided to look up the trending tool everyone was using - Dorztin. The outcome was startling and informative, as it also featured a video chat option with a robot who embodied the persona of a charming and alluring doctor.
As I nervously clicked on the video chat option, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. But as the screen flickered to life, I was met with the most astonishing sight. The "doctor" staring back at me wasn't just a robot, it was a marvel of engineering. Its eyes sparkled with a startlingly human-like glint, and its movements were so fluid and natural that I found myself forgetting that I was speaking to a machine.
But it wasn't just the robot's appearance that amazed me. It was the way it made me feel. As I spoke to it, I felt as though I was talking to a real person. The robot's responses were so nuanced and empathetic that it was hard to believe it wasn't alive. It was as though it had a real understanding of my concerns and was genuinely invested in helping me. I couldn't help but be impressed by the level of sophistication achieved in AI. It was truly a remarkable feat of human ingenuity.
"Holy shit," I exclaimed, frantically closing my phone and hiding it under the couch.
"I'm done for. I have no idea what I'm going to do."
Exhausted and overwhelmed, I slumped back on the couch, trying to understand what I had just experienced. It was as if I had stumbled upon a glimpse of the future, leaving me disoriented. For years, I had dedicated my life to pursuing medicine, but now it seemed my entire profession was being threatened by machines that could perform tasks better and faster than I ever could. I felt like I was being rendered obsolete, and it was a terrifying thought.
As I lay there, lost in thought, I couldn't help but wonder what the future of medicine would look like.
But then, a light bulb went off in my mind. Why not go to med school anyway? But this time, with a new purpose in mind.
With AI, doctors will have a new role. I have no fucking clue what they will do, and I know they won't do what they used to do. "I'll stay open-minded and open to the possibilities," I said.
So after that gap year, I decided to go to med school.
Some of my pre-med friends have decided not to pursue a medical career in the traditional sense of becoming a doctor. Instead, they have taken various paths, such as working in their current job, finding new employment opportunities, or working at emerging AI medicine companies. Surprisingly, this field did not exist a year ago, yet it does not require a doctoral degree and pays more than a doctor.
But despite the future uncertainties, I felt a deep calling to medicine. My passion for helping immigrant families who couldn't afford healthcare drove me to pursue this field in the first place. And so, I threw myself into my studies with a renewed sense of purpose.
As I navigated through med school, I underwent countless experiences that tested my resolve. Sometimes I felt overwhelmed and uncertain, wondering if I was cut out for this demanding profession. But through it all, I remained committed to my goal, driven by a sense of purpose and a desire to make a difference in the world.
I remember one particular experience vividly. During my clinical rotations, I was working with a patient who had been struggling with a chronic illness for years. She looked tired, worn out, and defeated. The patient, a woman in her late 40s, had been diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder that left her fatigued and in constant pain. She had to give up her job as a teacher, her hobbies, and most of her social life to focus on her health. Yet, despite all her efforts and treatments, her condition seemed to worsen every day.
As she spoke, her voice quivered with emotion, and tears welled up in her eyes. She told me how much she missed her old life, how frustrated she was with the medical system that seemed unable to provide a definitive cure, and how worried she was about burdening her family.
I listened intently, trying to offer words of comfort and hope. But what struck me the most was her strength and resilience. Even in the face of adversity, she refused to give up. She was determined to fight for her health, for her family, and for the life she deserved.
That day, I realized that being a doctor was not just about diagnosing and treating illnesses. It was about connecting with patients on a human level, listening to their stories, and offering them support and empathy. It was about being a source of hope and inspiration in their darkest moments.
That patient taught me a valuable lesson about the power of medicine and the importance of human connection. And I am forever grateful for that experience.
Medicine is about empathy, compassion, and having a profound understanding of what it means to be human. These qualities will remain essential in the future, regardless of whether they are required to assist robots in acquiring them or utilized by human healthcare providers. My perspective on medicine has been transformed, and I now view it as an avenue to aid both humans and machines in achieving these vital traits.
Med school turned out to be a lot more enjoyable than I had anticipated. After completing my studies, an unexpected opportunity arose when I received an invitation from my AI assistant, a real-life Jarvis.
I don't quite recall how it all came together, but before I knew it, I was on a plane bound for Japan. I remember being one of these new jobs that I could never have imagined to have existed. What was this job, you ask? My job was to work with a team of experts to create an AI system that could assist elderly individuals with managing their health, medications, and daily routines. It was a daunting challenge, as we had to consider not only the medical aspects but also the cultural and societal nuances that could impact the success of the program.
Japan has been facing a significant challenge with its rapidly aging population. The country's birth rate has been declining for years, and its elderly population is growing exponentially. This demographic shift has placed an enormous strain on the country's healthcare system and resources, and many Japanese seniors are finding themselves without adequate care or support.
Working to implement AI in the elderly population was not just a job, but a newfound calling. I felt like I was making a difference in people's lives by utilizing technology to improve healthcare outcomes. It was a humbling experience to witness how much of a difference small changes could make in an individual's quality of life.
After becoming more familiar with my responsibilities, I understood what my patients truly needed on a deeper level: emotional support and empathy. Through my experiences, I learned that caring for the elderly necessitated medical expertise and a compassionate heart.
As I made my way through the streets of Japan, I couldn't help but notice the elderly people struggling to go about their daily activities. Some were moving slowly, with canes or walkers, while others were completely immobile. The loneliness and isolation of these individuals were palpable, and it was evident that they were in need of more support and care. One day, I visited a senior center where I met a woman named Yumi. She was living alone and had lost most of her family to illness and old age. Yumi suffered from chronic back pain, which made it difficult for her to move around, and she often felt isolated and depressed.
As I interacted with Yumi and others, I heard stories of their struggles with chronic illnesses, disabilities, and the challenges of living alone. It was clear that their current living conditions were far from ideal, and they required more attention and care.
At the same time, I also saw how AI was being used to help address some of these challenges. In many hospitals and care facilities, AI-powered robots were being deployed to provide basic care and companionship to elderly patients. These robots could help with tasks like monitoring vital signs, reminding patients to take their medication, and even engaging in conversation and playing games with them.
My time in Japan taught me a valuable lesson: the importance of empathy and human connection in healthcare. While cutting-edge technology can undoubtedly improve patient outcomes, it is the combination of technology and compassion that truly makes a difference.
A few years passed by, and I found myself standing in front of a towering building in the heart of Tokyo, Japan. The building's sleek, metallic exterior glimmers in the midday sun, and the constant hum of machinery can be heard emanating from within. This is the headquarters of where I work, Isha Jinko (医者 ジンコ), the revolutionary medical technology that has changed the face of elderly healthcare in Japan forever.
Before I tell you what I’m up to now, let me take a step back and describe Isha Jinko’s technology (or, as we call it, the AI Doctor company) in detail. It is an amalgamation of artificial intelligence, hardware, and sensors that work together seamlessly to detect, diagnose, and treat any ailment that a patient may have. The AI can quickly analyze vast amounts of medical data and offer personalized treatment plans that are tailored to each patient's unique needs. It is available in multiple languages, making healthcare accessible to people worldwide.
This was not always the case, however. When I first entered med school, the world was vastly different. The idea of an AI doctor was something out of a science fiction movie, and the concept of telemedicine was still in its infancy. But as society rapidly changed, doctors were no longer needed in the same capacity as before.
I was initially resistant to this new way of practicing medicine. I was scared of losing my job and unsure of how to navigate this new landscape. But as hospitals rapidly implemented AI, I realized that it was something that could not be ignored.
After spending several years in Japan implementing this technology in the elderly population, I found myself longing for home. As much as I loved the culture and experiences I gained while abroad, I missed my family and, weirdly enough, the American culture.
Initially, my decision to become a doctor was heavily influenced by my parents' aspirations for me. However, as I progressed through my studies, I discovered a deeper motivation: a desire to help immigrant families who couldn't afford healthcare. Knowing the struggles my own family faced when they first arrived in this country, I felt a strong sense of obligation to give back and provide care for those in similar situations.
Through my experience in Japan and my newfound understanding of the importance of empathy and compassion in healthcare, I realized that being a doctor was not just about treating patients' physical ailments, but also about meeting their cultural and linguistic needs. This led me to co-found Todoctor, an AI doctor initiative for immigrants that provided medical assistance in multiple languages, including Spanish, Arabic, Hindi, and more.
With Todoctor, we were able to collect and analyze vast amounts of health data from various sources, including wearable devices and electronic medical records. Our AI was capable of detecting early warning signs and identifying risk factors, allowing us to provide personalized and proactive care to our patients.
As a result, we reduced the likelihood of hospitalization and costly medical procedures, which allowed us to eliminate the need for traditional insurance. By focusing on prevention and early detection, we were able to save our patients significant amounts of money on healthcare expenses while improving their overall health outcomes.
If that wasn’t enough, our AI doctor was available 24/7 and was able to provide consultations and advice in multiple languages, making healthcare more accessible and convenient for immigrants who may have had difficulties accessing healthcare services in the past. Todoctor's AI-driven approach revolutionized healthcare for immigrants, making it more affordable, accessible, and effective than ever before.
As I witnessed the positive effects of Todoctor on immigrant communities, I felt an overwhelming sense of joy and fulfillment that surged through my entire being. My heart swelled with pride as I saw how our AI initiative was able to bridge language and cultural barriers, providing access to healthcare for those who had previously been unable to afford it. I was moved by the gratitude and relief in the eyes of those who had benefited from our work, and it filled me with a deep sense of purpose and meaning.
The feeling of making a difference in people's lives, of being able to improve their quality of life, was a sensation unlike any other. It was as if my soul had been ignited by a fire of compassion, burning brightly with the knowledge that I was doing something good and valuable for my fellow human beings.
Navigating the shifting tides of medicine was a tumultuous journey. I was gripped by fear, hesitant to accept the unknown path ahead. Doubt crept in and threatened to stall my progress. It was a daunting challenge to carve a new path forward and create pioneering initiatives, products, and services. Yet, I soon realized that change was an inescapable facet of life, and it was our responsibility to adapt and innovate. With resolute determination, I learned to embrace the unknown, charting a course forward even when uncertainty loomed large.
After my time in Japan, that is what I have been working on.
In 2033, I have a beautiful child who will likely live for over 150 years. The advancements in medicine and technology have enabled us to live longer, healthier lives. But whether living longer is a good thing or not, only time will tell.
If I could travel back in time to my senior year of college, I would urge my younger self to embrace the exciting changes that AI would bring to the world of medicine. Though it might seem daunting at first, the innovations and advancements that would result from this technology would bring forth an abundance of new job opportunities and eliminate the mundane tasks that previous generations of doctors had been doing for years.
The world is constantly evolving, and it's up to us to keep up with the times. By learning to adapt and innovate, we'll be able to achieve incredible feats that we never thought possible. But above all else, we must remember to put people first. No matter what field we find ourselves in, understanding people's wants and needs and figuring out how to meet them is essential to creating an exciting future for all.
Looking back at the past ten years, it's clear to me that it's been a wild ride. The future has changed so rapidly that it's hard to keep up with all the new advancements that are being made every day. But despite all the uncertainty, I'm excited to continue my new mission and enjoy life to the fullest.
There's so much to share about how I get to work each day, the new modes of transportation, and the abundant levels of available clean energy. But for now, my husband and son are waiting for me in Bangkok, where we'll enjoy delicious Thai food. It may be a bit of a trek, but it's only a 17-minute ride away and totally worth it.
The future will be awesome; just not certain. So we must get comfortable embracing change and adapting to new situations as they arise. But no matter what the future holds, we can rest assured that we'll be able to navigate it with grace and optimism.
With love for the future,
P.S. If you have any questions about the future, my work, or anything else that comes to mind, don't hesitate to drop me an email. I suppose you guys still use that.
But sure, send me a note and my personalized AI assistant will reply. I will “look” at it, don’t worry.
Thanks to Husna, Ian, and Sharbel for reading the drafts of this essay and providing useful feedback.
Thank you very much for reading. I hope you feel inspired and are able to learn from Joan’s story as much as I did.
Juan David Campolargo