Artificial intelligence and the coming health revolution

Artificial intelligence can improve health care by analyzing data from apps, smartphones and wearable technology

Your next doctor could very well be a bot. And bots, or automated programs, are likely to play a key role in finding cures for some of the most difficult-to-treat diseases and conditions.


Artificial intelligence is rapidly moving into , led by some of the biggest technology companies and emerging startups using it to diagnose and respond to a raft of conditions.

Consider these examples:

— California researchers detected cardiac arrhythmia with 97 percent accuracy on wearers of an Apple Watch with the AI-based Cariogram application, opening up early treatment options to avert strokes.

— Scientists from Harvard and the University of Vermont developed a machine learning tool—a type of AI that enables computers to learn without being explicitly programmed—to better identify depression by studying Instagram posts, suggesting “new avenues for early screening and detection of mental illness.”

— Researchers from Britain’s University of Nottingham created an algorithm that predicted heart attacks better than doctors using conventional guidelines.

While technology has always played a role in medical care, a wave of investment from Silicon Valley and a flood of data from connected devices appear to be spurring innovation.

“I think a tipping point was when Apple released its Research Kit,” said Forrester Research analyst Kate McCarthy, referring to a program letting Apple users enable data from their daily activities to be used in medical studies.

McCarthy said advances in has opened up new possibilities for “personalized medicine” adapted to individual genetics.

“We now have an environment where people can weave through…

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