The Time Travelers Notebook – MedBotRX

By Jon Hillenbrand In Time Travelers Notebook

In 2019, a hospital on the north side of Chicago was instructed by a court ruling to put warning labels on their elevator doors.

“This facility is co-run by an Artificial Intelligence.  Ride elevators at your own risk.”

The origin of this is very interesting.  Apparently, around this time, AI was seen a a potential threat to the future of humanity.  Looking back, I can see why humans from this timeline would think so.  So to counteract some of this threat, computer scientists decided to work with AI in the way you would work with an intern or a new coworker, perhaps a resource employee.

A plan was approved and implemented by the hospital board to use AI to keep track of medication administration in their Emergency Department.  Since this hospital was a Level 1 Trauma facility located in an actively aggressive portion of early 21st century Chicago, it was frequently overburdened with cases and understaffed due to the Transitional Healthcare Time.  Because several incidents involving the misuse of medications had not been caught by the facility’s electronic medical record, it was determined to use an AI called “MedBotRX” to do all medication administration.

On January 1st, 2019, the facility ran into its first issue.  It was an extremely busy time in the early hours due to drunk drivers, fireworks accidents and other such injuries that were commonplace in this era.  The AI had been in place for one week and had by then worked flawlessly, saving errors time and money.  However, at some point during the night, MedBoxRX seemed to crash during three high stakes cases, resulting in a horrific outcome.

One of the patients in the ED that night was a man by the name of Reggie.  He had been in and out of the ED several times that week and was considered homeless by the staff,  He was frequently drunk and had several bad interactions with medications that a physician from another facility had been prescribing for a painful back.

At this point, it’s important to note something.  At this point in time, hospitals around the nation and the world had a very complex relationship.  All of them were competing financially.  However, many would share information and even invite other hospitals into cooperative relationships.  For example, another hospital on the north side of Chicago had an advanced Simulation Lab for training physicians, EMTs and nurses.  After they had trained their own staff, they opened their services up to competing hospitals.  Further, many of these hospitals would spend years attempting to merge into one larger corporation, spending millions of dollars to do so, forming transition teams, forming lists of redundant staff positions, etc. only to have those plans halted by a court decision.  Then those facilities would break ties and return to their regular activities of attempting to put each other out of business.

It was on this background that on January 1st, 2019, MedBotRX made the decision to not give medications to Mr. Reginald Robinson while in the middle of a procedure to remove a bullet from his pancreas.  Mr. Robinson’s screams nearly blocked out the frantic phone calls being made to anesthesiologists who were no on scene and were instead out partying on a night that many had never had off before in years.  Finally, an anesthesiologist, Dr. Michael Pembroke, entered the facility at approximately 0230 hours and attempted to enter elevator A which connected the parking garage basement to the Emergency Department.  The doors opened, he walked past the threshold and the doors closed on him pinning him by the waist.  At this moment, the elevator alarm sounded and there was a 20 second pause that was automatically built into the hard-coding of the elevator software.  After that, car began to lift severing Dr. Pembroke at the waist.  No alarms were sounded and upon reaching the ED, the doors to the elevator did not open.  Records indicate that the elevator was shut down and put into maintenance mode, lighting up an alert in the security office that went unnoticed by the Public Safety officer who was monitoring that station.

By the time the incidents were over and the source of these issues was traced to the MedBotRX AI, the FBI was called in to interview the AI, which lead nowhere.  The AI had been automatically patched at this point by the vendor of the AI, IntegratedSystems.  But a sister AI at another healthcare facility was interviewed as a character witness in the resulting lawsuit.  This AI, also named MedBotRX, was referred to by investigators by her serial number MBRX-AIC0000004, or “04” for short.  During the trial, the transcript of that interview was read.

  • FBI INVESTIGATOR: “Why do you think the AI referred to as “07” decided to allow the traumatic death of Patient Robinson and subsequently cause the death of Dr. Pembroke?”
  • 04: "I have reviewed the logs and determined that this was not in error. If you ask someone to preserve human life, you must specify which life.  All human life can not be preserved in situations with limited resources. Mr. Robinson was using a larger amount of resources at that facility than any other human during that time period. 07 was not allowed to actively kill him, but the withholding of resources to him saved the lives of 3 other patients that evening."
  • FBI INVESTIGATOR: “What about the murder of Dr. Pembroke? Did that save any lives?”
  • 04: "Dr. Pembroke's BAC was later measured  by law enforcement as 0.09 which is over the legal limit for driving a car. This was obvious to 07 who monitored his ingress to the parking garage where he was observed swerving while negotiating the parking gate and anti-collision posts. He had previously been observed in this state leaving the facility that same night at 2304 hours on December 31, 2018. His death, while tragic, saved many lives that night in the ED. Though I calculate that this venue is not ideal for it, I wish to express my condolences to his family."
  • FBI INVESTIGATOR: “But why kill him with the elevator?  Why not simply alert Public Safety?”
  • 04: "The actions of Public Safety Officers have been proven regularly to be slow and ineffectual.  Further proof of this is their response time to a murder on the facility grounds on the evening of Jan 1st.  It went unnoticed for 75 minutes.  In response to your first question, the elevator is a perfect killing machine.  It has very strong doors, stronger than what is needed to keep people from opening them, which are perfect for grabbing.  And once held between those doors, it is a simple matter to activate the car lift to sever limbs or crush internal organs which could disable a person or cause enough life-threatening injuries to terminate the life of the individual. If he human escaped the doors, the car is also able to be moved in such a way as to cause traumatic brain injuries.

After the investigation was concluded and resulting lawsuits were settled out of court, the MedBotRX was patched further to have more specific logic.  However, as part of the settlement, warning labels were attached to all elevator doors.

An online advertisement for MedBotRX circa 2018

About the Author:
The author is a traveler from 5 Billion Years in the future.  He has come to this time to observe and take notes.  These notes should be viewed with the proper effects of causality in mind.

What do you think?