When people (or his mother) ask Casey Bennett what he does, he likes to jokingly tell them, “I create artificial intelligence.” Last year, Bennett, who is Chief Scientific Officer for Faros Healthcare, combined the Lagrange equation, Einstein, and cute, cuddly robots on the TED stage to illustrate the disconnect of analytic tools in today’s healthcare.

His talk, “Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare – It’s about Time” portrayed the next chapter of healthcare as one that embraces, rather than fears, available technology. As he says, “I think healthcare and its current state is one of the most pressing societal problems…we can try to regulate or legislate our way out of it, but the reality is the only way to truly solve it is for us to innovate our way out. That is what I am trying to help do.”

Bennett passionately believes advancing technology isn’t about the latest apps or cars that drive themselves, but rather about empowering people. “The reality is we know more about your car ride…or your table reservation…or what you’re most likely to buy than we do about whether the treatment you’ve been prescribed is actually going to work. That’s not good enough. We can do better. And we should do better.”

Watch him tackle the beauty and complexity of artificial intelligence with a simple car analogy:

But back to the robots: We already know that cuddling our stuffed bear from childhood (or, perhaps, your stuffed beagle, Barkimedes — don’t judge) makes us feel safe and happy. But imagine a world where cuddling with a stuffed animal can actually have real, quantifiable medical benefits. Bennett wants this to be our reality, and he told us about how he is “putting furry, cuddly robotic pets into the homes of elderly people with chronic health conditions, which they can play with and interact with [and where] we are also using the onboard sensors to monitor their activity levels, diet, sleep patterns on a real-time day-to-day basis.”

Bennett stressed the importance of daily data instead of information only obtained during doctor visits, noting that it can help establish patterns of what to expect in the future.

As he says, “Health is something that happens everyday.”

Bennett called the $6,000 robots “sensor suites” that have the potential to be portals into people’s everyday health.

Bennett called the $6,000 robots “sensor suites” that have the potential to be portals into people’s everyday health.

If you’d like to keep up with the latest intelligence on the subject, Bennett authored a chapter in Artificial Intelligence in Behavioral and Mental Healthcare. Other articles are available on his website, www.CaseyBennett.com.