Chinese search giant Baidu creates an open-source A.I. for detecting cancer

Baidu, the Chinese search giant, is sometimes hailed as China’s Google. And just like Google, it has a bunch of innovative side projects which go way beyond straightforward search. We recently covered Baidu’s amazing handheld universal translator. Now the company has announced its latest feat: Using artificial intelligence algorithms to help pathologists better diagnose cancer.

The company has developed an A.I. that is capable of analyzing slides containing biopsied tissue. Reviewing these slides can be difficult, even for experienced pathologists, but Baidu’s deep learning technology is able to look for tiny tumor cells faster and with greater accuracy than previous approaches. In tests, the algorithm was able to outperform both a professional pathologist and the previous winner of the so-called Camelyon16 challenge, a competition intended to evaluate algorithms for automated detection of cancer metastasis in lymph node tissue sections.

“Using A.I. to analyze pathology images is a very challenging task,” Yi Li’s, a machine learning research scientist at Baidu, told Digital Trends. “A digitized pathology slide at 40x magnification often contains billions of pixels, which is too large for a neural network to process. As a result, the mega-image is divided into tens of thousands of smaller individual images so that a neural network can analyze each of them separately. What’s unique about our neural conditional random field (NCRF) algorithm is that it can look at multiple images — including the potentially cancerous region and its surroundings, simultaneously. This new capability significantly reduces the number of false positives [in the form of] misclassified normal cells.”

To its credit, Baidu isn’t keeping this technology to itself. Instead, it is making it available to the medical research community via open source in the hopes that it can help as many people as possible. (And, you know, help raise Baidu’s name value in the process!)

“We hope this open-sourced algorithm can serve as a high-quality baseline for future research in this area,” Li said. “The algorithm is only evaluated on a limited number of public datasets at this stage. However, the algorithm needs to be further assessed using much more clinically relevant data to prove it still maintains higher accuracy than experienced pathologists. Our team will continue improving the algorithm and collaborating with researchers with whom we can share new datasets.”

Li notes that the goal isn’t to replace doctors in performing this valuable task, but rather improving pathologists’ efficiency in their daily work. Should this algorithm work as well as hoped, doctors in the future will no longer need to spend hours looking at every slide from a biopsy, but just focus on the affected areas as identified by the algorithm.

Emerging Tech

Burgers are just the beginning: Embracing the future of lab-grown everything

You’ve almost certainly heard of the 'farm to fork' movement, but what about 'lab to table'? Welcome to the fast-evolving world of lab-grown meat. Is this the future of food as we know it?
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Emerging Tech

How emotion-tracking A.I. will change computing as we know it

Affectiva is just one of the startups working to create emotion-tracking A.I. that can work out how you're feeling. Here's why this could change the face of computing as we know it.

Exclusive: The Surface Hub 2S will revolutionize work. Here’s how it was made

Exclusive interviews with the designers, futurists, and visionaries behind the Surface Hub 2 paint a dramatic picture of how Microsoft thinks collaboration will change your office.
Emerging Tech

Beresheet crash caused by manual command, but reflector device may have survived

Details are emerging about what may have gone wrong with spacecraft Beresheet's failed moon landing. A manual command was entered which led to a chain reaction. But NASA still hopes to salvage use of its Laser Retroreflector Array device.
Emerging Tech

The oldest type of molecule in the universe has been located at last

A milestone in the development of the early universe was the combination of helium and hydrogen atoms into a molecule called helium hydride. But strangely enough, this ancient molecule has never been detected in space before now.
Emerging Tech

The grid of the future will be powered by … giant subterranean bagpipes?

In order to transition to a more renewable-focused energy system, we need to scale up our grid storage capacity --- and our existing methods aren't going to cut it. Could compressed air be the key?
Emerging Tech

Mercury’s wobble as it spins reveals that it has an inner solid core

Scientists have long wondered what the inside of Mercury looks like, and they now have strong evidence that the planet has a large and solid metallic core. The data for the new findings was collected by the now-defunct MESSENGER mission.
Emerging Tech

Gravitational forces at heart of Milky Way shaped this star cluster like a comet

Hubble has captured the stunning Messier 62 cluster. The cluster is warped, with a long tail which stretches out to form a shape like a comet. It is thought this distortion is due to Messier 62's proximity to the center of the galaxy.
Emerging Tech

Troubleshooting Earth

It’s no secret that humans are killing the planet. Some say it’s actually so bad that we’re hurtling toward a sixth major extinction event -- one which we ourselves are causing. But can technology help us undo the damage we’ve…
Emerging Tech

Inside the Ocean Cleanup’s ambitious plan to rid the ocean of plastic waste

In 2013, Boyan Slat crowdfunded $2.2 million to fund the Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit organization that builds big, floating trash collectors and sets them out to sea, where they’re designed to autonomously gobble up garbage.
Emerging Tech

Climeworks wants to clean the atmosphere with a fleet of truck-sized vacuums

Using machines that resemble jet engines, Climeworks wants to fight climate change by extracting CO2 from thin air. The gas can then be sold to carbonated drink and agriculture companies, or sequestered underground.
Emerging Tech

How 3D printing has changed the world of prosthetic limbs forever

When he was 13 years old, Christophe Debard had his leg amputated. Here in 2019, Debard's Print My Leg startup helps others to create 3D-printed prostheses. Welcome to a growing revolution!
Emerging Tech

Geoengineering is risky and unproven, but soon it might be necessary

Geoengineering is a field dedicated to purposely changing the world's climate using technology. Call it 'playing god' if you must; here's why its proponents believe it absolutely must happen.