Protecting Sight #124: How we can build AI to help humans. Rotary phaco chop, a case of progressive dimming vision, & the Swiss Family Robinson.

Welcome to my daily learning journal. My daily goal is to watch one Ted Talk and one cataract surgery. I also plan to read one journal article and read/listen to a book chapter, short story or significant work.

Here’s today’s list:

1. Ted Talk – Margaret Mitchell – How we can build AI to help humans, not hurt us. “As a research scientist at Google, Margaret Mitchell helps develop computers that can communicate about what they see and understand. She tells a cautionary tale about the gaps, blind spots and biases we subconsciously encode into AI — and asks us to consider what the technology we create today will mean for tomorrow. ‘All that we see now is a snapshot in the evolution of artificial intelligence,’ Mitchell says. ‘If we want AI to evolve in a way that helps humans, then we need to define the goals and strategies that enable that path now.'” (

I enjoyed her insights on the evolution of AI. AI will continue to transform ophthalmology, medicine, and citizen life.

I realized that, as I worked on improving AI task by task, dataset by dataset, that I was creating massive gaps, holes and blind spots in what it could understand. And while doing so, I was encoding all kinds of biases. Biases that reflect a limited viewpoint, limited to a single dataset — biases that can reflect human biases found in the data, such as prejudice and stereotyping.

Margaret Mitchell

2. Cataract Surgery – Uday Devgan MD – Rotary Chop Technique. Dr. Devgan writes in part, “The key to splitting a brunescent cataract is to access the central endo-nucleus. This is the densest part of the cataract and a chop created here can be propagated to allow complete cracking and creation of two hemi-nuclear pieces. This video is from Dr. Cristos Ifantides from Denver, Colorado, USA and he has a method of nucleus division that works well in these dense cataracts.” Nice technique. Also highlights other posts. Every CataractCoach post has a teaching pearl!

3. Journal – Thompson AC, Chen X, Mruthyunjaya P. A Case of Progressive Dimming VisionJAMA Ophthalmol. 2018;136(4):434–435. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2017.4162. “A man in his early 70s with 2 months of progressive dimming of his vision presented to his primary care physician reporting unintentional weight loss, fevers, and subacute visual decline. What would you do next?”

4. Book Chapter – The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss – Chapter 26-27. (Gutenberg | enotes)

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