Google’s A.I. tools can predict death risks more accurately than hospitals

Google is beating hospitals at their own game — at least when it comes to death risk assessment. Google’s Medical Brain team has begun training its artificial intelligence system to evaluate the risk of death among hospital patients, and results for the time being are more accurate than those provided by existing medical tools.

Google first detailed its new system in a paper published in the Journal Nature in May. At the time, company researchers noted, “These models outperformed traditional, clinically used predictive models in all cases. We believe that this approach can be used to create accurate and scaleable predictions for a variety of clinical scenarios.”

The results, of course, are rather morbid. Alas, Google’s algorithms aren’t looking for ways to save people — just how likely they are to beat the odds. In one major case study, Google used its A.I. to evaluate a patient with breast cancer. In the 24 hours after she was admitted to the hospital, Google’s system gave her a 19.9-percent chance of  dying in the hospital, significantly higher than the 9.3 percent chance the hospital’s Early Warning Score submitted. Unfortunately, less than two weeks later, the patient passed away.

So how did Google do it? The A.I. examined the 175,639 data points found in the patient’s electronic medical records, which included interpreting and evaluating handwritten notes. As Google says, the inclusion of all this information is what differentiates this A.I. from previous approaches.

“In general, prior work has focused on a subset of features available in the EHR, rather than on all data available in an EHR, which includes clinical free-text notes, as well as large amounts of structured and semi-structured data,” Google’s paper reads.

In total, Google has analyzed 216,221 hospitalizations and 114,003 patients, which comes to more than 46 billion data points from all EHRs. And its results are particularly promising for healthcare professionals. Google’s ability to efficiently and accurately parse through stacks and stacks of data could be a real boon to hospitals, ultimately resulting in improved patient care.

Moving forward, Google wants to work on A.I. tools that can predict not only death risk, but also symptoms and diseases. The tech giant is no stranger to working in the healthcare industry, especially as related to prediction. Earlier in 2018, DeepMind worked with the Department of Veterans Affairs, examining its 700,000 medical records and predicting potentially fatal changes in patients’ conditions. And Google also wants to provide doctors with a voice recognition system that would cut down on the time-intensive practice of writing notes.

Emerging Tech

A.I.-generated text is supercharging fake news. This is how we fight back

A new A.I. tool is reportedly able to spot passages of text written by algorithm. Here's why similar systems might prove essential in a world of fake news created by smart machines.
Movies & TV

Best new podcasts

Feel like you’re drowning in podcasts? In this weekly series we’ll help you pick out the best from the rest of the new and returning shows. This week’s picks include a culture clash and a death sentence.

Hey Google, why did you kill off Allo, your best messaging app in years?

Allo, Google's messaging app, has shut down. I convinced my closest friends and family to switch to the app two-and-a-half years ago when it debuted, and we've been using it since. With its death, I'm feeling pain and sadness.

For the Gamechanger charity, comforting sick kids with games isn’t child’s play

Gamechanger is a worldwide charity that helps thousands of children each year, bringing them gifts and video games to keep them entertained during their hospital stay. Yet all started in a garage during a family’s darkest hour.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Desk lamps take on a new task by converting their light to power

What if we could charge devices using light from indoor sources like desk lamps? A group of scientists working on a technology called organic photovoltaics (OPVs) aim to do just that.
Emerging Tech

Body surrogate robot helps people with motor impairments care for themselves

A team from Georgia Tech has come up with an assistant robot to help people who have severe motor impairments to perform tasks like shaving, brushing their hair, or drinking water.
Emerging Tech

New Hubble image displays dazzling Messier 28 globular cluster

Messier 28 is a group of stars in the constellation of Sagittarius, located 18,000 light-years from our planet. Thousands of stars are packed tightly together in this sparkling image.
Emerging Tech

Cosmic dust bunnies: Scientists find unexpected ring around Mercury

A pair of scientists searching for a dust-free region near the Sun have made an unexpected discovery: a vast cosmic dust ring millions of miles wide around the tiny planet Mercury.
Emerging Tech

Take a dip in the Lagoon Nebula in first image from SPECULOOS instrument

The European Southern Observatory has released the first image collected by their new SPECULOOS instrument, and it's a stunning portrait of the Lagoon Nebula, a swirling cloud of dust and gas where new stars are born.
Emerging Tech

Robot assistants from Toyota and Panasonic gear up for the Tokyo Olympics

Japan plans to use the 2020 Olympics to showcase a range of its advanced technologies. Toyota and Panasonic are already getting in on the act, recently unveiling several robotic designs that they intend to deploy at the event.
Emerging Tech

Racing to catch a flight? Robot valet at French airport will park your car

Hate searching for parking at the airport when you need to catch a plane? Startup Stanley Robotics recently unveiled a new outdoor automated robotic valet system. Here's how it works.

Bags with brains: Smart luggage and gadgets are making travel smoother

The bag you use to tote your stuff can affect the experience of any trip. In response, suitcases are wising up, and there are now options for smart luggage with scales, tracking, and more. Here are our favorite pieces.

At $99, Nvidia’s Jetson Nano minicomputer seeks to bring robotics to the masses

Nvidia announced a new A.I. computer, the Jetson Nano. This computer comes with an 128-core GPU that Nvidia claims can handle pretty much any A.I. framework you could imagine. At $99, it's an affordable way for A.I. newbies to get involved.