Alphabet’s Deep Mind Tackles Healthcare, Stumbles on Privacy
Alphabet, Google’s parent company, also claims Deep Mind as its progeny. Last year, the artificial intelligence (AI) company taught itself to play the game Go better than any human on the planet. And now it’s turning its considerable technological power on health care. AI is already becoming interwoven with healthcare. But there are boulders in the path.
London-based Deep Mind ran into a couple with the testing of its first app, a mobile-based program that alerts doctors and other caregivers to fluctuations in a patient’s condition. Other investigatory efforts through the UK’s National Health Service include an app that aims to analyze medical imagery as well as experienced doctors.
The first potentially fatal condition DeepMind built an alert for was acute kidney injury (AKI). To test it, London’s Royal Free Hospital illegally provided Deep Mind with 1.6 million patient records. Can you imagine our regulators freaking out?
London’s Royal Free Hospital and Deep Mind avoided fines but hospital disagrees that the mobile app, called Streams, could have been tested another way.
The incident has chilled the research with an Arctic blast, but, as new technology floods the market, it’s a cautionary tale about the need not to circumvent ethics and patient privacy.