Battlestar House

We watch House every week even though the show is formulaic. Dr. House, being so predictable, now only appeals in the same way that a train wreck captures one’s attention. One problem is that House doesn’t have a worthy opponent, someone who can beat him at his own game. Now, House has two games: his diagnostic skills and his atheism.

Computers are being increasingly used in diagnostic medicine; my father contributed papers to the Symposium on Computer Applications in Medical Care from ’79-’86; the early computer program
MYCIN dealt with diagnosing and recommending treatment for bacterial infections. Norvig, in Paradigms of Artificial Intelligence Programming, stated that it “performed as well or better than expert doctors”. Technology has certainly progressed in 30 years so a high tech company needs to pay Princeton Plainsboro to allow them to test their new hand-held diagnostic tool against the best doctors in the country. And it needs to start beating House by suggesting avenues to explore and diagnosing conditions faster than he can. Deployment of the technology can still be years away (MYCIN was never used to actually treat patients due to legal and ethical issues) but House needs to see the future; that he has to be able to bring something to medicine that the computer cannot. The computer is relentlessly rational, everything House aspires to be, but better than he could ever hope for.

It wouldn’t hurt that the person running the test be a Christian who could go toe-to-toe with House. They certainly exist, but perhaps that would be too much for American television. Shallow atheism is easily expressible in sound bites; Christianity is not. Deep exposition might turn viewers off.

blog comments powered by Disqus