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AI is driving medical breakthroughs and Nvidia’s providing the fuel

Posted: 29 March 2017 | By Darcie Thompson-Fields

Chip maker Nvidia is powering today’s artificial intelligence boom with hardware designed to handle complex learning algorithms. And the company has set its sights on healthcare and medicine as the next big market for its technology.

Senior director Kimberly Powell, who leads Nvidia’s efforts in healthcare, says the company is working with a range of medical researchers across a range of areas, an effort they plan to expand in coming years.

“There’s this amazing surge in medical imaging research,” Powell said at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech Digital conference in San Francisco on Monday. “More and more we’re visiting providers at hospitals today, and they’re imagining new artificial-intelligence applications.”

The leading application for AI in healthcare currently is applying deep learning to the processing of medical images and sifting through huge amounts of data.

This machine learning technique is gaining huge traction in medical research. Most notably, researchers at Stanford used Google’s image recognition algorithm to diagnose skin cancer with the accuracy of a human doctor. Powell noted in her talk that deep-learning papers have been dominating large medical imaging conferences.

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Nvidia’s graphic processors, or GPUs, are well suited to performing the complex calculations required for deep learning. The company also makes specialist hardware for deep learning capabilities, including the powerful research computer DGX-1.

Powell believes this hardware will soon be across hospitals and medical research centres. She said that the approach could help to improve diagnosis and boost standards of care in developing countries according to MIT Technology Review. Powell added that drug discovery would likely be another big area for deep learning in the future.

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