The chip maker Nvidia is riding the current artificial-intelligence boom with hardware designed to power cutting-edge learning algorithms. And the company sees health care and medicine as the next big market for its technology.
Kimberly Powell, who leads Nvidia’s efforts in health care, says the company is working with medical researchers in a range of areas and will look to expand these efforts 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.”
Most notably, a machine-learning technique called deep learning is being applied to processing medical images and sifting through large amounts of medical data. Deep learning, which is very loosely inspired by the way neurons in the brain seem to work, has already proved incredibly useful for finding images and processing audio files (see “10 Breakthrough Technologies: Deep Learning”).
This AI technique certainly seems to be gaining acolytes in medical research. Last year a team from Google showed that deep learning can be used to automate the diagnosis of eye disease. Meanwhile, a group from Stanford University published a paper in the journal Nature that showed the technique can spot skin cancer as well as a trained dermatologist. A group from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York used the approach to analyze patients’ electronic health records and predict, with surprisingly high accuracy, what disease a person would go on to develop.