S. Scott Graham is an associate professor in the Department of Rhetoric & Writing at the University of Texas at Austin. He is also affiliated with the Center for Health Communication, the University of Texas Opioid Response Consortium, and the Health Informatics Research Interest Group. He uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to study communication in bioscience and health policy, with special attention to bioethics, conflicts of interest, and health AI. His research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the NSF’s Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), and the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Graham is the author of three books (The Doctor & The Algorithm, The Politics of Pain Medicine and Where’s the Rhetoric?) as well as 35 articles, chapters, and essays published in Technical Communication Quarterly, Rhetoric of Health & Medicine, Plos-One, the Annals of Internal Medicine, and other journals. His scholarship has been covered in The New York Times, US News & World Report, Science, Health Day, AI in Health Care, and the Scientific Inquirer.
For years, technologists and computer scientists have promised an AI revolution that would transform the very basis of how we imagine and administer modern medicine. AI-driven advancements in medical error rates, diagnostic accuracy, or disease outbreak detection could potentially save thousands of lives. But health AI also carries the potential for exacerbating deep systemic biases if left unchecked.
The Doctor and the Algorithm combines insights from science and technology studies, critical algorithm studies, and public interest informatics to better understand the promise and peril of health AI. The book draws on case studies in automated diagnostics, algorithmic pain measurement, AI-driven drug discovery, and death prediction to investigate how health AI is made, promoted, and justified. It explores the enthusiastic promises of health AI marketing communication and medical futurism while also analyzing the inequitable outcomes new AI technology often creates for already marginalized communities. Finally, the book closes with specific recommendations for regulatory frameworks that might support more ethical and equitable approaches to health AI in the future. Interweaving textual analysis and original informatics, The Doctor and the Algorithm offers a sobering analysis of the promise of medical AI against the real and unintended consequences that deep medicine can bring for patients, providers, and public health alike.
- “In this book, S. Scott Graham meticulously lays out examples of AI models being used in medical care, critically examines their use, and contrasts what is known about AI from the scientific literature with claims being made by AI model developers, medical experts, and futurists. In doing so, Dr. Graham brings health AI to life by painting a rich picture of how AI is developed, studied, and marketed, and why these processes fundamentally incentivize hype as a core component of adoption. This book is refreshing because it directly takes experts to task for their claims on medical AI that result in extreme hype or cynicism. For AI newcomers and experts alike, this book will leave you with a deep appreciation for the complex social phenomena that underlie the lifecycle of AI models from development to deployment.” — Karandeep Singh, MD, MMSc, Chair, Michigan Medicine Clinical Intelligence Committee, University of Michigan
The emergence of rhetorical new materialisms and computational rhetorics has provoked something of an existential crisis within rhetorical studies. In Where’s the Rhetoric? (2020, The Ohio State University Press), S. Scott Graham tackles this titular question by arguing first that scholarly efforts in rhetorical new materialisms and computational rhetoric be understood as coextensive with longstanding disciplinary commitments in rhetoric. In making this argument, Graham excavates the shared intellectual history of traditional rhetorical inquiry, rhetorical new materialisms, and computational rhetoric with particular emphasis on the works of Carolyn Miller, Kenneth Burke, and Henri Bergson.
Building on this foundation, Graham then argues for a more unified approach to contemporary rhetorical inquiry—one that eschews disciplinary demarcations between rhetoric’s various subareas. Specifically, Graham uses his unified field theory to explore 1) the rise of the “tweetorial” as a parascientific genre, 2) inventional practices in new media design, 3) statistical approaches to understanding biomedical discourse, and 4) American electioneering rhetorics. The book overall demonstrates how seemingly disparate intellectual approaches within rhetoric can be made to speak productively to one another in the pursuit of shared scholarly goals around questions of genre, media, and political discourse—thereby providing a foundation for imagining a more unified field. (Cover art: Nathan Putens)
Scott’s first book, The Politics of Pain Medicine (2015, University of Chicago Press) chronicles three years of ethnographic research and nearly ten years archival research into interdisciplinary pain medicine and related public policy. He explores the resonance between pain science’s efforts to establish an integrated mind/body approach to treating pain and the new materialist movement in science and technology studies. (Sample.)
- “The depth and rigor of the scholarship alone is worthy of admiration. Displaying extensive knowledge of his subject, Graham brings together “pain science’s biophysical model and rhetoric and STS’s [science and technology studies’] new materialisms” (7) in order to demonstrate that pain’s diverse materiality is “calibrated” (that is, sorted, arranged, justified) by multiple regimes of practices across institutions. As he makes this multiplicity visible to the reader, along with the tangled apparatuses that sustain it, he makes an energetic plea for improved dialogue between STS, rhetoric, and new materialism. It would be easy for such a complicated, multifocal study to jump the rails; however, Graham not only manages to keep the various purposes in contact with one another but also shows how they enrich one another. We have a better investigation of pain medicine, a better demonstration of methodology, and a better intervention into theory because of the synthesis he achieves.” Nathan Stormer, Philosophy & Rhetoric
- “As a scholar who works at the intersection of rhetoric and STS, I am also glad to now have this book at my disposal when I make the argument that rhetoric of science and STS need each other to find theoretical purchase. Graham has long been a vocal proponent of continued uptake of STS into rhetoric of science, technology, and medicine (RSTM) and vice-versa. He is, for me and for others, a primary voice of materialist perspectives in our field and a voice of the emerging field of rhetoric of medicine…. The book is deftly organized, densely contextualized, and clear without being oversimplified. That is to say: minds will be bent, but backs will not be broken.” Kate Maddelena, Enculturation
- “With the grace and precision Graham shows in his first book, readers can only hope that he has now carved out the space to take up other perplexing health and medical topics with the careful attention and parsing he has given to pain in this text but without the need to offer so much justification for the methods he uses beautifully.” Cathryn Molloy, Rhetoric Society Quarterly