At first glance you might be tempted to wonder just what artificial intelligence and hair transplants have in common.
What is artificial intelligence? Artificial intelligence, or AI (not to be confused with a reproductive medical procedure called artificial insemination) is training machines to ‘think’ and ‘respond’ like humans. It requires enormous amounts of data to train machines effectively and create the smart algorithms by which they make their ‘decisions’. Automated, or self-driving, vehicles and robots are amongst the better known applications for artificially intelligent algorithms but there are many more instances where AI is used. Take that little chat window that pops up on some websites when you visit them. That’s not a real human, that’s a chat bot that has been ‘taught’ to understand most of the basic questions visitors ask and answer accordingly.
When you visit your favourite online retailer, which for much of the world’s population is undoubtedly Amazon, you are presented with a line up of products that, surprise, surprise, are things you’re interested in. Or things related to products you’ve bought from Amazon in the past. So if you have bought a hair growth shampoo from Amazon, you’ll likely be presented with a range of hair growth promoting conditioners and other restorative hair products. This is not a co-incidence. This is a classic example of smart algorithms at work. The software running the platform has been ‘trained’ to know what you’ve bought previously and then find related products that you should be interested in buying in the future.
Once considered bit of a novelty, artificial intelligence today is rapidly becoming a business and economic necessity. Companies that don’t make use of AI in some way, shape or form, are likely to be languishing well behind their peers in terms of profitability, efficiency and viability. But where does AI fit into the hair transplant industry?
When a hair transplant surgeon considers which hairs to use for transplants and how best to transplant them for a natural look, he (or she) uses a range of innate tools and training to make those decisions. Knowledge about which hairs are proven to transplant the best, about how to analysis the shape of a patient’s head and hair growth patterns so as to ensure the transplanted sections look natural. And so on. However, those are all things a machine can be trained to do as well.
Why Would You Allow A Machine To Get Involved In Your Hair Transplant!
As is the case with most intelligent software programs and smart algorithms, these things are tools. No more, no less. But what a tool! Computers can run 24/7 without getting tired or having to sleep. Humans can’t. They can sift through millions and millions of records in a few seconds. Humans can’t. They can identify statistical patterns in data that it would take humans some considerable effort to spot, especially minute ones. They can arrive at and make split second decisions then simultaneously act upon that information. It takes humans a lot longer to process the same information and then respond.
This is why smart traders use smart trading algorithms to monitor the markets and make buy and sell decisions for them. The algorithms can do it instantly when a predetermined set of circumstances occurs. Humans take a bit longer to register the fact and react. By which time the optimum window of opportunity to act may have passed.
So there are lots of advantages to utilising smart machines and intelligent algorithms across a wide range of applications. But how is this applicable to hair transplants? Well, let’s take a look at the decision-making and analytical processes involved in a hair transplant. First the surgeon needs to identify the best, most suitable hairs to use for a transplant. Then they need to assess the shape of the patient’s head, their hair pattern, factor in the alignment of the hair follicles and various other considerations.
It may take a surgeon some time to identify and ascertain which individual hairs are best for transplanting; a well-trained machine can do this in a fraction of a second. And likely more accurately than a human as well so long as the data used to train the machine was quality data. Machines don’t err on the side of caution. They don’t umm and ah and ‘think’ ‘will it or won’t it’. Something either fits the desired criteria or it doesn’t. However, the machine can also be taught to expand that range of criteria if deemed necessary.
Machines can be trained to analyse hair growth patterns and skull shapes via smart mathematical algorithms to determine where hairs should be transplanted for the best effect. They can be ‘taught’ to co-ordinate the orientation and angles at which each hair needs to be inserted into its new location. The surgeon can then use this information to make the transplants, saving time and hopefully reducing errors.
Of course the data used to train a robotic system has to be carefully collected and groomed to ensure it trains the software correctly. Garbage in, garbage out as the saying goes. And the last thing you want is garbage out when it applies to your hair transplant! Inevitably this data is collected and audited by humans initially. And it also needs to be borne in mind that when it comes to health applications, even the most intelligent robotic systems should only ever be considered a partner, never a total replacement. They exist to assist with diagnoses and treatments for the mutual benefit of patients and medical staff.