Exploring the Unexpected Connection of Acupuncture and AI

While in Florida I wanted to create photos of me in practice for my website. I could never find photos with needling being done. I made some of my own.


Saffron Huang, a machine learning professional, has recently drawn attention to the unexpected parallels between traditional Chinese acupuncture and cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI). In a recent article published in Wired, she discusses her unique experience with acupuncture as a child and how it is reminiscent of the processes used in AI today.

Huang fondly recalls falling asleep at night with needles delicately inserted at various points on her face. The treatment aimed to correct her vision issues, with the stainless-steel pins surreptitiously removed by her parents as she slept. This unconventional approach proved successful, with her farsighted left eye gradually improving over time and her mildly nearsighted right eye eventually achieving a perfect score at the optometrist’s. By the age of six, Huang no longer needed glasses.

This process of identifying problem areas and adjusting treatment accordingly, Huang reflects, is strikingly similar to the methodology used in machine learning. Like acupuncture, AI is a process of identifying patterns, making predictions, and refining methods based on results. It’s an observation that opens up fascinating possibilities for the integration of traditional medicine and modern technology.

Working as a writer and co-director for the Collective Intelligence Project and previously an AI researcher at DeepMind, Huang has a unique perspective on the convergence of these two seemingly distinct fields. Her work explores collective approaches to AI governance, making her well-equipped to draw connections between the old and the new.

Leveraging the knowledge of traditional medicine could provide a fresh perspective on understanding the complexities of AI technology. Similarly, AI’s predictive models and algorithms could potentially offer new insights into the effectiveness and mechanisms of traditional medicine practices like acupuncture.

As we forge ahead into an era marked by rapid technological advancement, it is vital to remember that innovation can come from unexpected combinations. The surprising synergy between acupuncture and AI serves as a fascinating reminder that our past can hold valuable keys to unlocking the future. It’s a story of how needles and nodes can come together, creating a tapestry of shared knowledge and mutual growth.

In an increasingly digitized world, we are still connected to our roots in surprising and meaningful ways. This unlikely synergy between ancient practice and cutting-edge technology serves as a powerful reminder of the potential that lies in the convergence of old and new. This is only the beginning of a promising journey where tradition meets technology, creating a harmonious blend of healthcare and artificial intelligence.

In the end, as Saffron Huang’s story suggests, the collaboration of acupuncture and AI not only offers a novel approach to understanding and applying AI but also breathes new life into traditional methods, proving that sometimes, the future of innovation lies in the wisdom of the past.