An artificial intelligence algorithm powered by a database of more than 130,000 images of skin lesions can detect skin cancer as well as a human dermatologist, researchers say.
The AI, developed by a team from Stanford University, has a few major differences from the typical advanced neural networks that have seen increasing use among medical researchers. For one, it’s not built from scratch, but instead harnesses an existing Google database of 1.28 million objects. That means it already knows how to classify things, so the researchers could spend less time on training the algorithm and more on fine-tuning its sensitivity and accuracy.
The end result is a computing tool that could drastically simplify the process of diagnosing skin cancer in areas of the world that don’t have hospitals or clinics. The algorithm was tested against the diagnoses of 21 board-certified dermatologists, and the researchers said it matched the humans’ performance.