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Intel Zeros in on AI in Healthcare

The chip giant is launching a new AI unit and encouraging the development of algorithms that enable more precise cancer treatments.

Intel is looking to lead the way in AI, announcing on Thursday that the company will form a new unit, the Artificial Intelligence Products Group, that will focus partially on pushing new capabilities in healthcare.

“This organization is about aligning our focus. The new organization will align resources from across the company to include engineering, labs, software and more as we build on our current leading AI portfolio: the Intel Nervana platform, a full-stack of hardware and software AI offerings that our customers are looking for from us,” said Naveen Rao, who will head up the new unit, in a blog post outlining the AI division. Rao previously served as the CEO of Nervana, a chip company acquired by Intel last year.

Tackling Cancer With AI

The news of the new AI-focused unit, which will report directly to Intel’s CEO, follows the launch of the company’s artificial intelligence competition, which focuses on developing ways to use AI in cervical cancer screening. It kicked off on March 15 in partnership with MobileODT, a company that uses mobile phones to detect cancer. According to a press release, the competition challenges participants “to develop an algorithm that accurately identifies a woman’s cervix type based on images” and will run on the Kaggle platform for precision modeling.

By more accurately identifying the cervix, the hope is that the algorithm will allow professionals to zero in on cases that require more advanced care, referring the women to specialists where necessary and preventing inadequate treatments.

“We aim to challenge developers, data scientists and students to develop AI algorithms to help solve real-world challenges in industries including medical and health care,” said Doug Fisher, senior vice president and general manager of the software and services group at Intel, in the press release. He believes the competition will find a way to improve the quality assurance workflow in cancer screenings by combining MobileODT’s optical diagnostic devices and software services with Intel-based AI.

“This will aid the ability to make real-time determinations on treatment, and provide a first-line response to women around the world to help detect cervical cancer early,” Fisher added.

Intel’s effort to disrupt healthcare with AI joins others, such as IBM, which is introducing Watson for Oncology this month at the Jupiter Medical Center in southeastern Florida to achieve more precise cancer care for patients.

Jirsak/iStock/Thinkstock Images
Mar 24 2017

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