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AI dominates China’s elite doctors in cancer diagnosis competition

[Credit: China Daily/Twitter]

A custom-built AI designed to diagnose brain tumors and predict hematoma expansion dominated some of China’s best doctors in a competition last Saturday in Beijing. The AI, dubbed BioMind, ultimately scored 2:0 against its human competitors, comprised of 15 senior doctors from China’s premier hospitals.

BioMind was developed by a collaboration between a team from the Artificial Intelligence Research Center for Neurological Disorders at the Beijing Tiantan Hospital and researchers from the Capital Medical University. BioMind’s developers opted to feed the AI with data sets featuring tens of thousands of images depicting nervous-system-related diseases, which were retrieved from Tiantan Hospital’s archives stretching over the past decade.

Wang Yongjun, executive vice-president of Tiantan Hospital, stated that this training ultimately enabled the AI to become proficient in diagnosing neurological diseases such as meningioma and glioma with an accuracy rate of over 90%. According to Wang, such rates are comparable to the accuracy of a senior doctor, according to a report from state-owned Xinhua News.

During its the competition on Saturday, BioMind was able to correctly diagnose brain tumors with an accuracy rate of 87% out of a total of 225 cases. The AI was also able to complete its task in 15 minutes. In comparison, the team of 15 elite doctors was able to achieve an accuracy rate of 66% when diagnosing brain tumors, finishing the task in 30 minutes. Apart from this, BioMind was able to make correct predictions in 83% of brain hematoma expansion cases, while its human competition displayed a more conservative 63% accuracy.

Despite the AI’s strong performance against China’s elite doctors on Saturday, however, Cheng Jingliang, a professor of radiology at the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University, stated that artificial intelligence systems for the medical field are still well into their infancy. According to Cheng, AI is already being used in hospitals to help doctors read images such as lung scans, but when it comes to giving full diagnoses to patients, artificial intelligence still lags far behind that of senior medical professionals.

In a statement to China Daily, Paul Parizel from the Antwerp University Hospital in Belgium, who served as a member of the jury during last Saturday’s AI vs. human doctors competition, believes that systems such as BioMind would prove to be incredibly valuable when integrated to existing medical practices.

“It will be like a GPS guiding a car. It will make proposals to a doctor and help the doctor diagnose. But it will be the doctor who ultimately decides, as there are a number of factors that a machine cannot take into consideration, such as a patient’s state of health and family situation,” he said.

The United States initially led the artificial intelligence race, but over the years, China has steadily gained ground in the AI industry. Thanks to a population that is compliant to the application of new technologies, as well as a government that actively pushes AI researchers to push further, China is on track to overtake the United States in the near future. Last January alone, the Chinese government announced plans to build a $2.1 billion technopark in Beijing that is expected to house companies actively involved in AI research and development. The United States does not have a comparable initiative to date. This was confirmed by Jack Clark of Elon Musk-backed OpenAI, who previously stated that the country lacks a central national strategy on artificial intelligence.

“It is confusing that we have this technology of such obvious power and merit and we are not hearing full-throated support, including financial support,” Clark said.

AI dominates China’s elite doctors in cancer diagnosis competition
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