Thursday, July 27, 2023

Why AI is Making My Life Easier and Helping Me Be Better Informed


A lot of people have been singing the praises, as well as using, Chat GPT.  I have no problem with the product, but for some reason I have become hooked on Google's version of conversational AI.  Named "Bard" the system is pretty simple to use.  It's available to practically anyone that has a Google account and has a pretty simple formate  Basically type in what you need and Bard can create the words for you.

However, as of late I've begun to use it in a different way.  I've gotten in the habit of asking Barb questions I need an answer to.  I used to just go to Google and type my question into the search bar.  Normally that would result in a list of website that would help me get the answer.  Using Bard, you *get* the answer... all typed out right there for you.

It's probably best to simply give you an example.  A day or so ago, I received an email that looked like SPAM.  It was one of those "fake invoices" we all get nowadays with a phone number to call if "you feel you have received this in error".  Of course, the idea is to get you to call and hopefully they then somehow convince you or trick you into giving them a credit card number or something that allows them to steal from you.  I wasn't going to fall for that, but since it had a phone number, I wondered if there was a way to easily diagnose a scam from this.

Now if you've ever typed a phone number into a search engine, you normally are presented with a list of websites that want to get your credit card number and charge you to look the number up.  Even if those sites are legit, I refuse to pay someone to tell me I have the phone number of a scammer.  That just seems backward to me.  Basically even if the scammer doesn't get a dime from me, I've still lost money by buying the number lookup.

Then it hit me... maybe Bard could use its AI and figure it all out for me.  So I went to Bard and I typed in "is the phone number 844-658-1405 part of a scam?"

In about 10 seconds, this is what I got back:

The phone number 844-658-1405 is associated with a number of scams, including the IRS impersonation scam, the tech support scam, and the sweepstakes scam. In the IRS impersonation scam, the caller will claim to be from the IRS and demand payment of taxes that are owed. In the tech support scam, the caller will claim to be from a tech support company and offer to fix a problem with your computer. In the sweepstakes scam, the caller will claim that you have won a prize and ask for your personal information in order to claim it.

If you receive a call from this number, do not answer it. If you do answer it, do not give out any personal information. Hang up the phone and report the call to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can report the call online at or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.

Here are some tips to help you avoid scams:

Never give out personal information over the phone, unless you are sure who you are talking to.

Be suspicious of any caller who demands payment immediately.

Do not click on links in emails or text messages from unknown senders.

Be careful about what information you share on social media.

Keep your software up to date.

By following these tips, you can help protect yourself from scams.


Personally, I think that is pretty slick.  Not only did I learn that the phone number *is* associated with a scam... it's associated with a bunch of scams!  Plus Bard provided some good info on helping to avoid scams as well letting me know how to report them.  If you are tech literate, the info provided isn't ground breaking, but it's good to know and I think it could help people that are less tech literate.  

 This is just one small example of why AI *might* be an incredible help to all of us.  While I agree that AI is scary and I agree that it needs to be ethically use and controlled, I also see some potential for good with this as well.  Everything in life has pluses and minuses.  It's up to us to determine how this turns out.

I mean, we use AI in the practice everyday and Pearl's Second Opinion is helping us to make better clinical decisions.  Like anything, you cannot check your brain at the door or trust AI any more than you would probably trust another human being.


  1. Be careful about who you decide to give patient data to. One particular dental AI company I was forced to install software for...spent about 30 days siphoning away every single x-ray image we ever took in the last ~20 years along with copies of the entire patient database.

    They took all our patient data and it was probably in order to better train their system.

    There's a reason my dentist only has my first and last name along with my phone number.

    There's no reason for a company that attempts to provide a second opinion on an x-ray image to have all my information.

    Similar to the principle of "least privilege" in computer security, AI companies (and any company that accesses your patient data) needs to be asked exactly what data they are collecting and why they can't do their job without it.

    i.e. "You are attempting to detect cavities in x-ray images. Why do you need our patient's address, city, state, zip, email, cell phone number, allergies, chart notes, billing history, spouse, children, insurance information and social security number in order to do that?"

    The next question to ask is "Where is this data being stored? What country?"

    If it's not in the United States, you're going to have a difficult time holding them accountable should their servers get breached and all your patient data gets leaked.

  2. Aaron, as *always* you are *spot on* with this. There is NO need to have all of a patient's imaging, demographic, medical history, and treatment history in order to assess an x-ray image. Note that I used the word "patient's" in that sentence. That is because all that info belongs to the patient. A company should think twice or three times about that and then answer "no we don't need all of that" before even writing their software.

    I think it is scary and a bit telling on how desensitized we have all become about giving away our data. It's also *sad* that we have become so desensitized to receiving news about a data breach that compromises our information. So we get 3 years of data monitoring for free and then we simply move on. It shouldn't be that way.

    Now, I understand that there are times that a company actually needs a lot of data from you. Of course, healthcare immediately comes to mind for me. However, in most instances a company/entity has no need for that other than to try and either sell it to to use it against me in marketing.

    Keep fighting for what is right, Aaron. I'm grateful you are out there doing what you do!