The present high school junior appeared on stage with his father on the last day of AIMed North America 2018. He spoke together with a panel of experts including the chairman of Hidary Foundation, Jack Hidary; product manager of Google, Jack Po and Geoffrey Rutledge, the chief medical officer and co-founder of HealthTap.
Showing no sign of stage fright, Tom shared his journey of starting an AIMed club in his school. We managed to catch him after his appearance to tell us more.
AIMed: Could you share with our audience again, your motivation to start an AIMed club in your school?
Murickan: I attended the medical intelligence and innovation institute (MI3) internship program this summer. Before that I have no idea on the impact of AI on medicine. I also do not have particular interests in coding, data science or engineering. I just know I want to be a doctor. But after spending three months with medical professionals, I learnt so much about AI and its impact on healthcare that it really changed my perspective. I want to share these information and knowledge with my peers who also have an interest in medicine in near future. That’s why I started AIMed club.
AIMed: What are some of the challenges you faced while starting the club?
Murickan: My proposal was rejected initially as my school was doubtful of my ability to lead a club with such a huge concept. They were unsure if I knew what I was doing. So I took a couple of months to lower down my basis, gather the information I know and get emails from all my official contacts within CHOC and AIMed community. Coming back to school and telling them that I do know what I am doing.
AIMed: AI is still a relatively new concept and not all your classmates are as fortunate as you to get hold onto so much information. What do you do to ensure that they are seeing what you see and not merely associate AI with robots?
Murickan: Yes, it is the struggle that I had previously. It’s common that when we first started out, we associate AI with those featured in the movies. But after going through the internship, I began to understand that AI involves lots of co-working parts. All of them have huge impacts on our future especially healthcare. However, if we really will like to take all of them to school, not everything will be as relevant.
Thus, I thought it is more important to have a clear definition. First to know that AI is not just robots but a variety of fields, and then these lessons may be effective and eventually we will all arrive at the same mind that there is a really great opportunity out there for all of us. I have been thinking about your question for a while. Hence starting from January 2019, I am planning to bring in guest speakers. I really hope to organize proper session whereby members not only interact with guest speakers but also form their own discussions and initiations.
I have been fortunate enough, to be present at this conference. I have already made so many connections and I want to present the same opportunity to the members. I hope that by the end of May 2019, current members will be able to build some sort of network. Any new member coming in can ask us questions anytime and expand on it.
AIMed: After attended AIMed North America 2018 and spoke in front of the audience, what are some of the key takeaway for you?
Murickan: Like I said earlier, I find it amazing that just a couple of months ago, I have no idea the implications of AI in medicine and now it’s becoming one of the biggest parts of my life. So I think the key takeaways for me from this conference is to continue to spread the awareness. How much AI is going to impact medicine, whether throughout my high school, my community. I will continue to travel with my dad to get out of the state and country, to spread that possible global awareness, pushing healthcare into the future.
AIMed: There were discussions revolving around implementing AI in medicine into the curriculum, as a student, do you think it needs to be integrated from ground level like high school?
Murickan: Yes, definitely. AI will be one of the biggest factors in the future, regardless of whether it revolves around medicine or not. So I think it’s important to have some sort of solid base, starting from high school, going up to the college and university level.
AIMed: What about your school? Are there any technology related programs?
Murickan: Our high school actually have one of the biggest technology programs in the whole of southern California. We have a variety of classes that teach us everything from computer programming to computer science, robotics, engineering. We also have classes that teach us ethics concerning AI. Although the program is more engineering base, I believe in near future, these fields, together with healthcare, nursing, and lab techniques etc., will all be integrated.
AIMed: If there is anything you will like to add?
Murickan: I guess, my final comment will be, I have gotten hold onto a lot of information from this conference and they will be helpful in preparing me for a different type of medical professionals.
My uncle is actually one of the head oncologists in Chicago, while I was talking to him, he told me he has just been introduced to the whole concept of AI medicine. He advised me to be prepared because the doctors from my generation are going to be completely different from the medical professionals now. Thus, with AIMed club and support from friends and family, I feel I am in a much better position, watching myself progressing towards that future.
A science writer with data background and an interest in current affair, culture and arts; a no-med from an (almost) all-med family. Follow on Twitter.