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AI could power a health-care revolution, but there are some things we need to work out first


AI could power a health-care revolution, but there are some things we need to work out first


Artificial intelligence has the potential to power a health and wellness revolution, but there are some points that need to be ironed out first.

That was the message coming out of an East Tech West roundtable conversation at the Viva Technology conference in Paris.

There, Chris Tung, president of strategic development at Alibaba Group, and Brittany Barrett, CEO of FemHealth Insights, joined CNBC’s senior technology correspondent Arjun Kharpal to discuss the promise and limitations of AI.

“We could literally cure breast cancer with AI,” Barrett said, referring to an algorithm that can predict a woman’s five-year risk of breast cancer.

“A radiologist looked at it and said, ‘She doesn’t have breast cancer. She’s healthy.’ AI said, ‘I think she’s going to have breast cancer in the next two to three years.’ That is a game changer because breast cancer is curable if you catch it in stage one.”

Tung shared similar developments in China, where AI was helping to speed up the diagnosis process.

“We (Alibaba) support three hospitals in Hangzhou province for the doctors to diagnose the CT scans for potential tumor issues and we found that, on average, it takes the machine only three seconds to diagnose. So we can actually spare the doctor’s time to look at other stuff in greater detail.”

Yet, Tung said the biggest opportunities in AI will come from personalization.

“People are treated equal, but people are created differently. If it’s physical health or mental health, everybody has their unique needs that need to be looked after. If we’re only focusing on general intelligence, it’s about building the capability but not about looking after individuals,” he said.

Unfortunately, data bias stands in the way of creating true personalization, according to Barrett and Tung.

“In order for us to actually create personalization, we need to incorporate gender and sex into our algorithms,” Barrett said.

“Fair representation of the data set is really critical, not just from gender, but also from different cultures, different backgrounds, different regions,” Tung added.

Watch the full East Tech West roundtable discussion in the video above, where our panelists also discuss why AI is finally taking off and the importance of data protection.

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