Mon, Jun 19, 2017 - Page 4 News List

AI to power the coming health revolution

BOT POWER:Advances in artificial intelligence have opened up new possibilities for ‘personalized medicine’ that is adapted to individual genetics, an analyst said

AFP, WASHINGTON

Your next doctor could very well be a bot. Bots, or automated programs, are also likely to play a key role in finding cures for some of the most difficult-to-treat diseases and conditions.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly moving into healthcare, led by some of the biggest technology companies and emerging start-ups using it to diagnose and respond to a raft of conditions.

Consider these examples:

California researchers detected cardiac arrhythmia with 97 percent accuracy on wearers of an Apple Watch with the AI-based Cariogram application, opening up early treatment options to avert strokes.

Scientists from Harvard and the University of Vermont developed a machine learning tool — a type of AI that enables computers to learn without being explicitly programmed — to better identify depression by studying Instagram posts, suggesting “new avenues for early screening and detection of mental illness.”

Researchers from Britain’s University of Nottingham created an algorithm that predicted heart attacks better than doctors using conventional guidelines.

While technology has always played a role in medical care, a wave of investment from Silicon Valley and a flood of data from connected devices appear to be spurring innovation.

“I think a tipping point was when Apple released its Research Kit,” Forrester Research analyst Kate McCarthy said, referring to a program letting Apple users enable data from their daily activities to be used in medical studies.

Advances in artificial intelligence have opened up new possibilities for “personalized medicine” adapted to individual genetics, McCarthy said.

“We now have an environment where people can weave through clinical research at a speed you could never do before,” she said.

Google’s DeepMind division is using AI to help doctors analyze tissue samples to determine the likelihood that breast and other cancers will spread, and develop the best radiotherapy treatments.

Microsoft, Intel and other tech giants are also working with researchers to sort through data with AI to better understand and treat lung, breast and other types of cancer.

Google parent Alphabet’s life sciences unit Verily has joined Apple in releasing a smartwatch for studies including one to identify patterns in the progression of Parkinson’s disease. Amazon meanwhile offers medical advice through applications on its voice-activated artificial assistant Alexa.

IBM has been focusing on these issues with its Watson Health unit, which uses “cognitive computing” to help understand cancer and other diseases.

When IBM’s Watson computing system won the TV game show Jeopardy in 2011, “there were a lot of folks in healthcare who said that is the same process doctors use when they try to understand health care,” Watson Health chief medical officer Anil Jain said.

Systems like Watson, he said, “are able to connect all the disparate pieces of information” from medical journals and other sources “in a much more accelerated way.”

“Cognitive computing may not find a cure on day one, but it can help understand people’s behavior and habits” and their impact on disease, Jain said.

Artificial intelligence is also increasingly seen as a means for detecting depression and other mental illnesses, by spotting patterns that might not be obvious, even to professionals.

A research paper by Florida State University’s Jessica Ribeiro found it can predict with 80 to 90 percent accuracy whether someone will attempt suicide as far off as two years into the future.

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