Storytelling for AI-powered Remote Healthcare

Author: John Gauntt

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and wearable and/or Internet connected devices and services are poised to become the next core medium for remote healthcare management and delivery. However, AI works as a medium only if people consent to being monitored by technology that must observe and learn about their daily activities, habits and preferences. How then, do we cognitively prepare people to manage and trust their healthcare in partial to full partnership with Big Data and AI? This project argues that people and technology must start telling better stories to each other. Narrative Communications Strategy (“storytelling”) is the dark matter that will connect AI's ultimate value to patients, their caregivers and medical professionals. The communication arts of storytelling and design are infrastructure for AI and the Internet of Things just as much as sensors, hubs and deep learning networks because people won't integrate connected health solutions into daily life without the narratives and user experiences that create shared understanding and meaning. Because the output of AI learning and processing are suggestions for human behavior based on an algorithms' understanding of a patient's individual situation, AI-powered healthcare is ultimately a storytelling challenge. Wearable medical devices coupled with digital healthcare will inject massive amount of AI technology into homes as up to 10,000 U.S. Baby Boomers will reach retirement age every day from now until 2030. Whether that technology is going to be efficient and humane will depend on how well we merge the way that people want to live with how fast technology is advancing. We need to train a new generation of communication and technology professionals in creative, ethical storytelling that is native to AI and the Internet of Things. This project will define and develop intellectual and organizational frameworks to enable communication design to collaborate with technology design for AI-powered healthcare. It is a follow up project from a graduate level research course "Contextual Storytelling: Best Practices for the Internet of Things" I co-directed at the Communication Leadership Program at the University of Washington, Seattle.