The "Medical Turing Test"
"Every PhD student in our Biomedical Engineering doctoral program has to pass our Medical Turing Test", jokes Prof. Dr.-Ing. Stefan Weber, Director of the ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering. Like its cousin the classic Turing Test faithful impersonation is the essence of the BME Medical Turing Test. Noted mathematician Alan Turing conceived of his self-titled test to determine the sophistication of an artificial intelligence system. A volunteer would have a dialogue through a computer. Unbeknownst to the volunteer the opposite would be an artificial intelligence system and if ever the interaction would be indistinguishable from a human, the artificial intelligence system would pass the Turing Test. And although Stefan Weber speaks in jest, the idea of the BME Medical Turing Test is that doctoral students in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Bern are able to converse with a clinician for around 15 mins, without the opposite noticing that they are speaking to an "engineer" and not a fellow medic. The humorous nature of this concept however has a very serious message. Future Biomedical Engineering experts must have the tools to consider clinical and technical priorities in equal measure, so solutions can bring true improvements to patient care.
"I came back to Bern"
Prabitha is a woman of the first hour. She is an alumnus of the first cohort of the Master’s in Biomedical Engineering, graduating in 2008. She is also an excellent example of the varied backgrounds that have access to the BME degree, entering the course with a B.Tech. engineering degree in Computer Science from Mangalore University, India. "I had come to Switzerland through a professional appointment. But after 10 years in the software industry my heart wasn’t in it and I was looking for new challenges. I was always interested in medical technology, and could see that the work of doctors was becoming more and more digital. But I knew to be able to enter into that domain, I needed to acquire specialist medical technology knowledge." So Prabitha identified the BME program in Bern and was impressed that it was being run in a medical faculty.