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Artificial intelligence

The UK wants to build a cancer-diagnosing AI to save lives

In her latest effort to make the UK a global leader in AI, British prime minister Theresa May announced plans today to spend millions on developing algorithms that can spot cancer.

The details: May wants to open up the medical data gathered by country’s National Health Service to companies and nonprofit groups interested in working with the government to build AI that can recognize signs of cancer. Along with collecting information about patients’ lifestyles, the goal is to create tools that general practitioners can use to refer patients to specialists.

Goals: The plan is for AI to diagnose 50,000 people at early stages of prostate, ovarian, lung, or bowel cancer a year by 2033. The UK government estimates that early diagnosis of these cancers could prevent as many as 22,000 deaths a year.

But: The proposal raises questions about what the government will do to ensure privacy and ethical use of the data. May could help assuage critics by following through with her plan for a council on data ethics.

Deep Dive

Artificial intelligence

A Roomba recorded a woman on the toilet. How did screenshots end up on Facebook?

Robot vacuum companies say your images are safe, but a sprawling global supply chain for data from our devices creates risk.

The viral AI avatar app Lensa undressed me—without my consent

My avatars were cartoonishly pornified, while my male colleagues got to be astronauts, explorers, and inventors.

Roomba testers feel misled after intimate images ended up on Facebook

An MIT Technology Review investigation recently revealed how images of a minor and a tester on the toilet ended up on social media. iRobot said it had consent to collect this kind of data from inside homes—but participants say otherwise.

How to spot AI-generated text

The internet is increasingly awash with text written by AI software. We need new tools to detect it.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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