By 27 August 2018 | Categories: news


Forget for a moment, the doomsday scenario of artificial intelligence (AI) stomping out human life as we know it. Rather, it’s cancerous tumours that should be fearing for their existence.

It turns out that the scenario posed at Microsoft’s AI day, whereby AI is used to detect tumours that may otherwise go unmissed, is not a development for the future – it’s here now

Researchers at the University of Central Florida's Center for Research in Computer vision, using computer vision, have already created an AI that can identify small tumours in CT scans, according to Interesting Engineering. Why is this important? Because while human radiologists have a stated success rate of about 65% for locating small tumours on a scan, the AI vastly outperforms them, doing so with a 95% accuracy.

Also interesting is that the development is a result of software engineers teaming up with medical professionals.

As stressed by Goksel Topbas though in the recent discussion of AI working with human beings, the idea would not be for the AI to replace radiologists or medical professions. Rather, the technology is expected to  work alongside doctors, being used to help them identify and locate tumours that otherwise may go unnoticed.  Then the necessary steps could be taken to eradicate the tumours before they grow larger.

As with all artificial intelligence projects, the AI had to be ‘taught’ what to look for, and what a cancerous tumour typically looks like, so that it could become better at identifying the anomaly in scans.  

To accomplish this, as noted by the site, the engineers responsible for the AI teamed up with National Institute of Health and the Mayo Clinic in the US, feeding thousands of CT scans into their AI software.

Beyond the obvious benefits of being able to catch tumours at their beginning stages before they become unstoppable, the announcement is exciting for another reason: it demonstrates what can be accomplished by different professions collaborating and fusing their expertise for a common goal. Cancer, be warned – the machines are coming for you.


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