After Battling Her Breast Cancer, Scientist Works To Give A.I. Expertise In Reading Mammograms
Computer scientist Regina Barzilay said, "At every point of my treatment, there would be some point of uncertainty, and I would say, 'Gosh, I wish we had the technology to solve it.' So when I was done with the treatment, I started my long journey toward this goal." But she was surprised the nation's science and cancer foundations weren't interested in funding her. Other news on technology looks at algorithms' "deep learnings," CRISPR's risks and rewards, birth control apps and health aides in the form of robots.
Training A Computer To Read Mammograms As Well As A Doctor
Regina Barzilay teaches one of the most popular computer science classes at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. And in her research — at least until five years ago — she looked at how a computer could use machine learning to read and decipher obscure ancient texts. "This is clearly of no practical use," she says with a laugh. "But it was really cool, and I was really obsessed about this topic, how machines could do it." (Harris, 4/1)
Black-Box Algorithms: Ready For Medical Use?
Some computer scientists are enthralled by programs that can teach themselves how to perform tasks, such as reading X-rays. Many of these programs are called "black box" models because the scientists themselves don't know how they make their decisions. Already these black boxes are moving from the lab toward doctors' offices. The technology has great allure, because computers could take over routine tasks and perform them as well as doctors do, possibly better. But as scientists work to develop these black boxes, they are also mindful of the pitfalls. (Harris, 4/1)
Electronic Health Record 'Gag Clauses' May Soon Come Off
The types of restrictions Bates is highlighting are widely referred to as "gag clauses" in the contracts that hospitals and medical practices sign with the vendors of electronic health records. As the federal government proposes new rules for medical records, there's reason to believe that those gags may soon come off. (Goldberg, 3/29)
CRISPR Companies Embrace Hope And Pressure Of Rapid Advances
The genome-editing technology CRISPR has raced from the lab to the bedside, but the biotech companies translating the revolutionary tool into human medicine say they’re not cutting corners or ignoring the ethical implications of rewriting human life. “Something that, for me, inspires hesitation and pause is that when you edit someone, in some respects, that’s forever,” said Dr. John Leonard, CEO of Intellia Therapeutics, at a STAT Plus event on the future of CRISPR. (Garde, 3/29)
Birth Control App Natural Cycles Is More Effective Than The Pill
With $38 million in funding, Natural Cycles has outraised many of its women-focused tech peers. It’s still a bit player in terms of active users, though, counting only a few hundred thousand, primarily in the U.K., U.S., and Sweden. While there’s no standard definition for “active user,” and thus no accurate way to compare, free fertility apps tend to boast many times more. (Deprez, 4/1)
This Robot Makes Sure You Remember To Take Your Pills
Wyman, serial entrepreneur Emanuele Musini, and physician Aiden Feng came up with Pillo Healthcare Assistant, a robot managed via an app to securely store and dispense medication for one person (that person or a caregiver has to load the bot). It has Alexa-like elements — it will tell you the weather, or answer wellness-related questions. (Rosen, 3/29)