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Google AI group that's mastering Go is now taking on healthcare

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DeepMind, the company inside Google whose AI will soon take on the world champion of Go, is venturing into a new field: healthcare. It announced on Wednesday the launch of DeepMind Health, an initiative to create apps for medical professionals that can help identify patients at risk of complications; acute kidney injury is the group's initial focus.

"It’s too early to determine where AI could be applied here."

DeepMind Health is starting with an iPhone app called Streams, which is supposed to quickly alert hospital staff of critical information on their patients. It next plans to integrate features that will help to organize and prioritize admitted patients. Much of that will come from an existing medical app called Hark, which DeepMind is acquiring.

Streams is the extent of DeepMind Health's efforts at the moment, and it really appears to be about as straightforward as it sounds. Though you'd expect it from DeepMind, there's no AI, deep learning, or neural networks to be found. For now, it's just making an app that'll let hospitals be more efficient. Down the road, however, maybe that'll change. "It’s too early to determine where AI could be applied here," the company writes, "but it’s certainly something we are excited about for the future." It's easy to imagine how, with access to patient data, DeepMind could eventually try using its AI prowess to better predict patient needs.

DeepMind is partnering with the UK's National Health Service and, specifically, the Royal Free Hospital London to begin testing Streams. It says that doctors and nurses at the Royal Free Hospital are actually helping to design the app as well, giving input on what information they need at a glance.

streams app-news-deepmind health

The Streams app. (Image credit: DeepMind Health).

Update February 25th, 10:15AM: This story has been updated to note that DeepMind will soon take on Go's world champion. Language stating the AI's skill at Go has also been toned down.