Artificial intelligence could manage our health. But can we trust it?

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The iLet, a "bionic pancreas" made by Beta Bionics. Image credit: Craig Walker/The Globe

In May, [startup Beta Bionics] received Food and Drug Administration approval to start clinical trials on what it calls a “bionic pancreas system” powered by artificial intelligence, capable of “automatically and autonomously managing blood sugar levels 24/7.” An artificial pancreas powered by artificial intelligence represents a huge step forward for the treatment of diabetes—but getting it right will be hard.

[A]rtificial intelligence techniques involved are typically opaque. We often don’t know how the algorithm makes the eventual decision. And they may change and learn from new data—indeed, that’s a big part of the promise. But when the technology is complicated, opaque, changing, and absolutely vital to the health of a patient, how do we make sure it works as promised?

Diabetes software doesn’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to accuracy. A 2015 study found that among smartphone apps for calculating insulin doses, two-thirds of the apps risked giving incorrect results.

Related article:  Animal gene editing could 'transform' our food supply, but will 'questionable regulations' block innovation?

[C]ompanies like to keep their algorithms proprietary for a competitive advantage, which makes it hard to know how they work and what flaws might have gone unnoticed in the development process.

The FDA is working on this problem. The head of the agency has expressed his enthusiasm for bringing A.I. safely into medical practice, and the agency has a new Digital Health Innovation Action Plan to try to tackle some of these issues.

Read full, original post: We Have to Be Smart About Artificial Intelligence in Medicine

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