New AI to Work With Autism


Fraser Clarke

The role played by Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the United Arab Emirates will continue to rise over the coming years according to an industry insider.

Along with Singapore, the UAE is home to some of the most advanced medical technology on the planet, with robotic pharmacies and robotic surgery both having been used in the country for almost five years.

Now, however, things are set to develop further, with child-sized robots being introduced later this year, aimed at helping children with Autism.

Dr Shabeer Nellikode of Universal Hospitals UAE told the Khaleej Times why he believes the new technology could be a gamechanger.

He said: “There are a lot of children with autism spectrum disorder in the UAE. The child-sized humanised robot will be able to play with children with autism and support them.

“Autistic children will interact and feel closer to the robot than with humans, because the robot will carry similar characteristics to them.

“The children will be interacting with ‘people’ who do not have a taboo about playing with them.”

The rise of AI across the Emirates has been nothing short of remarkable, with Abu Dhabi’s Cleveland Clinic just two cases away from performing 150 robotic procedures. That figure doesn’t include the latest in wearable technology or telemedicine either, with hospitals now able to monitor patients at risk of heart conditions around the clock.

Despite the positive growth, the costs remain high, limiting robotic surgery to the nation’s top hospitals. A da Vinci robot costs more than $2m, whilst surgery varies between $3,000 and $6,000 more than standard procedures.

Irrespective of the costs involved however, Dr Neillikode has a key piece of advice for medics worrying that they may be replaced by machines.

He concluded: “Although artificial intelligence and robotics are taking center stage in the medical field, they will not necessarily replace doctors.

“But a doctor who is using artificial intelligence and robotics will definitely replace a doctor that doesn’t use them.”

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