In Case of Emergency, Call the Robot

Should machines be involved when human life is on the line?

By Bobbie Hartman

Spring 2018

Adding artificial intelligence can be a great asset for helping governments scale services. “What AI does is make the response time to the citizen shorter,” says Joel Cherkis, a group vice president at Oracle. “And the technology is continuing to evolve and will deliver better services over time.”


Percentage of customer service interactions that chatbots and virtual customer assistants will handle by 2021 (versus 2% today)

But although you are likely OK with AI to alleviate traffic congestion, how do you feel about talking to machines when your loved ones are sick—or having life-threatening emergencies? Here are two ways AI is beginning to digitize diagnosis:

Robot on Duty

Customers throughout England accessing NHS 111, the National Health Service non–emergency hotline, could interact with robots by the end of this year, according to a leaked report. The service helps patients check symptoms online and then doles out AI-drafted advice and an option to talk to a human doctor.

In a Heartbeat

Danish startup Corti has developed an emergency call-listening digital assistant—already in use in Copenhagen—that listens to callers, alongside a human dispatcher, for clues such as tone of voice and breathing patterns, to detect if they might be about to go into cardiac arrest, giving real-time recommendations to dispatchers. More at