There are 2.5 doctors for every 1,000 people in the United States. In China, there are 1.5. While artificial intelligence (AI) is being developed all around the world, China has the most urgency behind their research and development. Computerized medical diagnosis is part of China’s grand plan to fully embrace AI by 2020. China is likely to lead the race, in part because Chinese doctors are keen to automate their most repetitive procedures and there is less concern in China about the use of data. AI technology may not flourish as fast in the U.S. because of debates about job losses and legal liabilities when AI makes a mistake, which it surely will.
The Intelligent Machines section of the MIT Technology Review cited the recent experience of a cancer radiologist named Chongchong Wu. She loaded a suspicious looking lung scan into an AI program computer program resembling Photoshop. AI uses a machine learning technique called neural networking. The software becomes trained by being fed with thousands of lung scans and being told what was a sign of disease and what was not. Dr. Wu found and corrected two false positives where the software mistakenly identified blood vessels as potential malignancies. At least as important, the software led to find a nodule she had previously overlooked and which indicated an early sign of disease.
The MIT Technology Review reported China is moving quickly, with more than 130 companies working on AI across the country’s healthcare sector. A hospital in Beijing now submits all its lung scans to an AI algorithm to expedite the screening process. Although AI faces challenges of adoption, accuracy, liability for errors, etc., there seems no doubt that momentum will grow. Lung scans is just one of many examples of where AI can be applied. We will likely be seeing an AI doctor soon.