Artificially Intelligent Vets | Veterinary Hospital Boulder

Mar 26, 2023

Artificially Intelligent Vets | Veterinary Hospital Boulder |

Artificial intelligence is about to change everything.  I have no idea how this will change the veterinary world, but we’ll soon find out.  As a qualifier I need to explain that I’m not the least bit tech savvy.  I use email, online banking, I text people, and I have an Instagram account that I haven’t posted to in 6 months.  That’s about it.  So, me trying to explain the impacts of AI on the veterinary world (and life in general) is like having a toddler explain the economic impacts of quantitative easing.

By now, many of you have heard of ChatGPT.  If you haven’t, it’s like a super-powered Google search that generates human-like responses to given prompts.  In other words, when you ask it a question, instead of linking you to a bunch of websites that may contain the answer, it gives you a direct, articulate, and alarmingly accurate answer.  Also, this is available to anyone for free through the OpenAI website.

While working on our March newsletter, I decided to mess with ChatGPT and see how it could assist.  I asked it to write me 300 words on heartworm disease.  It did, wonderfully written.  Then I asked it to edit it to 200 words.  It did.  Then 175 words.  It did (all this within 30 seconds).  Then I asked it to make it slightly humorous…then in the style of Hunter S. Thompson…then I asked it to word it in “old-English.”  It of course did.  Here’s the result:

“Verily, the peril of canine heartworm disease doth loom over our dear companions like a dark cloud. These dastardly parasitic worms, transported by the most wretched of creatures – mosquitoes, doth infiltrate dogs’ hearts, lungs, and blood vessels, putting them at risk of an early demise.

 But do not despair, fair friends, for there is yet hope. The key to defeating this wicked adversary is prevention. Through monthly heartworm prevention medications, in the form of tablets, topicals, or injections, we may dispatch these worms before they cause too much trouble. Annual testing* is also imperative, as the heartworm can attack without warning.

Although humans are wont to forget their obligations, let us not shirk our duty to protect our loyal furry friends. Work closely with thy veterinarian to devise a sound plan of prevention and safeguarding. Forsooth, heed the wisdom of the great bard, “All the world’s a stage,” and we must play our part in keeping our canine companions healthy and lively.”

That’s solid information, albeit with a strange delivery, but entertaining nonetheless.  The only thing I’d disagree with is the need to test for heartworm disease every year provided a patient is on prevention.  But it’s not wrong to either.

Here’s another.  I asked it “How dangerous is canine parvovirus, and can you make your answer rhyme?”  The response:

“Certainly, I can give it a try!

Canine parvovirus, oh how dangerous it be

Especially for puppies, it’s easy to see

Highly contagious, it spreads with ease

To unvaccinated dogs, it’s a real disease

Symptoms are severe, and can lead to death

Vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of breath

Fever and lethargy, a lack of appetite

Dehydration and organ failure, it’s just not right

Young pups are at risk, they’re the most vulnerable

Unvaccinated dogs, too, are quite susceptible

But with prevention and care, we can fight this foe

And keep our furry friends healthy and aglow

So vaccinate your dog, and keep them out of harm’s way

If symptoms arise, see the vet without delay

With swift treatment and love, we can help them survive

Canine parvovirus may be serious, but together we’ll thrive.”

I’m not even sure what to say about this.  Try it out for yourself and your mind is guaranteed to be blown.  What this means, one can only guess.  Imagine the diagnostic capability of this platform combined with other AI models.  Say your cat is sick, and we input your cat’s signalment (age, gender, breed), vitals, bloodwork results, and imaging studies (yes, there are AI models that can read x-rays and ultrasound).  It can pool from an inexhaustible database and tell us with exceptional accuracy what is going on.  In short, it will be a much better veterinary diagnostician than any human can be.

This goes for a staggering list of other occupations as well.  Business Insider lists the following jobs as the most threatened by AI; coders, computer programmers, software engineers, data analysts, content creators, journalists, paralegals (and likely even lawyers…GPT can pass bar exams and has filed mock-lawsuits), market research analysts, personal financial advisors, stock traders, graphic designers, accountants, customer service agents, and even teachers.  And it doesn’t take much thought to come up with a host of others.

There’s good and bad in all of this.  It’s kind of like splitting the atom – you can create nuclear power and nuclear bombs.  For the health of our pets, it’s hard to see the downside diagnostically.  Veterinary medicine is going to improve dramatically.  In my opinion the sticky part is how it impacts the human side of our compassion-based industry.  For the world in general, only time will tell.  Our lives are all about to change and we can’t know what’s coming.

-Andrew Boal

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