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Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Great A.I. Awakening? Health care implications?

From a very interesting long read at the NY Times:

...A machine can already detect tumors in medical scans better than human radiologists, but the machine can’t tell you what’s causing the cancer.
Then again, can the radiologist?

Medical diagnosis is one field most immediately, and perhaps unpredictably, threatened by machine learning. Radiologists are extensively trained and extremely well paid, and we think of their skill as one of professional insight — the highest register of thought. In the past year alone, researchers have shown not only that neural networks can find tumors in medical images much earlier than their human counterparts but also that machines can even make such diagnoses from the texts of pathology reports. What radiologists do turns out to be something much closer to predictive pattern-matching than logical analysis. They’re not telling you what caused the cancer; they’re just telling you it’s there.

Once you’ve built a robust pattern-matching apparatus for one purpose, it can be tweaked in the service of others. One Translate engineer took a network he put together to judge artwork and used it to drive an autonomous radio-controlled car. A network built to recognize a cat can be turned around and trained on CT scans — and on infinitely more examples than even the best doctor could ever review. A neural network built to translate could work through millions of pages of documents of legal discovery in the tiniest fraction of the time it would take the most expensively credentialed lawyer. The kinds of jobs taken by automatons will no longer be just repetitive tasks that were once — unfairly, it ought to be emphasized — associated with the supposed lower intelligence of the uneducated classes. We’re not only talking about three and a half million truck drivers who may soon lack careers. We’re talking about inventory managers, economists, financial advisers, real estate agents. What Brain did over nine months is just one example of how quickly a small group at a large company can automate a task nobody ever would have associated with machines.

The most important thing happening in Silicon Valley right now is not disruption. Rather, it’s institution-building — and the consolidation of power — on a scale and at a pace that are both probably unprecedented in human history...

But even enormous institutions like Google will be subject to this wave of automation; once machines can learn from human speech, even the comfortable job of the programmer is threatened...
I've had a good recurrent run here at "AI" issues. e.g., see "What might Artificial Intelligence bring to humanity?"

See also my 2013 NYeC Conference coverage "Smiling Almighty Jesus" riff going to "interoperability" issues. Gonna have to re-run that experiment now in light of the reported Google Translate improvement. Stay tuned. One has to wonder: might this level of cutting-edge intellectual and technical effort (Google Brain) bear actual transformative fruit in the health IT space (e.g., "interoperability"), relative to all of this incremental API ankle biting of recent years? Seeing the potential health data transparency and fluidity connection requires close study of the Lewis-Kraus article.


From FoxBusiness "Predictions for 2017,"
Theranos will shut its doors. The lawsuits are piling up and that will drain the coffers of the embattled lab test technology startup. CEO Elizabeth Holmes will finally be forced to seek bankruptcy protection and fade into obscurity, at least until the movie Bad Blood comes out, starring Jennifer Lawrence as the troubled entrepreneur. 
How does one go from an estimated personal net worth of $4.5 billion to zero in the space of a year or two? Lordy. See "Theranos had an awful year, and it only has itself to blame."


From The New Yorker.
Through DNA editing, researchers hope to alter the genetic destiny of species and eliminate diseases.
By Michael Specter
A long read (may be paywalled; I'm a subscriber). Well worth your time. apropos of a trio of books I will soon be reviewing.

The arc of existence from the Big Bang to our worrisome Anthropocene. Advances in health IT functionality (including UX) may not mean diddley if we fail to attend to much larger existential issues.
"We have engineered the world around us since the beginning of humanity. The real question is not whether we will continue to alter nature for our purposes but how we will do so. Using a mixture of breeding techniques, we have transformed crops, created countless breeds of animals, and converted millions of wooded acres into farmland. Gene drives are different; one insect could affect the future of our species. But it is a difference of power, not of kind." - Michael Specter
 "Engineered traits fail in the wild. But what if we could change that?"

More to come...

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