How AI is Altering the Way Illness is Diagnosed and Treated
The Chan Zuckerberg initiative is a philanthropic foundation co-founded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. Launched in December 2015, the initiative is a limited liability company that holds 99% of the couple’s Facebook shares.

Through the initiative, Chan and Zuckerberg have pledged to invest at least $3 billion, over the next decade, towards disease prevention, cures, and management. Recently, the initiative announced it’s first official acquisition, an artificial intelligence startup named Meta.

Meta is based in Toronto and the startup has created a search engine specifically tailored to the scientific community. The search engine combs through millions of academic research papers to present users with up-to-date, targeted results.

According to Cori Bargmann, the initiative’s president of Science, and Brian Pinkerton, the group’s president of technology, “Meta uses artificial intelligence to analyze and connect insights across millions of papers. It seeks out the most relevant or impactful studies in a scientific area the moment they are published, and finds patterns in the literature on a scale that no human being could accomplish alone.”

Now that the Meta tool has been acquired, the initiative plans to increase it’s capabilities an offer it, for free, to all researchers. Down the road, the platform will extend to include additional knowledge areas, such as education, and it will offer developers the opportunity to build directly on the tool, or integrate it with third-party platforms or services.

The Future of Illness Diagnosis

Meta’s tool, and the interest it garnered from the Chan Zuckerberg initiative, is just one example of how AI’s applications in the healthcare field are being increasingly explored. IBM began targeting the healthcare industry as a “sweet spot” for artificial intelligence back in 2011.

Since then, the market for AI has grown substantially. According to analyst Frost & Sullivan, the market was estimated to be worth $600 million in 2014, and that worth is expected to reach $6 billion by 2021.

From a more human perspective, industry professionals believe that artificial intelligence has the potential to deliver on a promise that doctors aren’t always able to fulfill. That promise is to remain current on every detail of every patients visit to every specialist or hospital, including pertinent new research, disease outbreaks, and public health recommendations.

In a perfect world, AI would be capable of digesting all of that information and how that information pertains to a specific patient’s symptoms, and then be able to provide a diagnosis and recommendation for the most effective course of treatment.

“Imagine there’s a new patient that has never been encountered by a particular physician before,” says Eric Xing, professor at Carnegie Mellon University. “What if a system could draw a connection between this particular patient and to some previous cases dealt with by other physicians at other hospitals or other historic cases in the system? That could be made possible by an artificial intelligence system.”

Among industry professionals, the hope is that AI can effectively supplement the care already being provided by human doctors, not replace it. “By using AI, you can complement human beings’ limitation in consuming large data. [AI systems] are very good at doing specific things, but they’re less competent than a human doctor on a comprehensive basis,” says Xing.

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Posted by: DSR
Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Tag: Healthcare
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