Skip to Content
Artificial intelligence

Facebook wants to use AI to speed up MRI scans

August 20, 2018

Facebook’s AI researchers are working with New York University to make magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) up to 10 times faster.

The goal: Through a project called fastMRI, Facebook’s team will develop algorithms capable of filling in the gaps in low-resolution MRI scan, effectively turning them into higher-res ones. This could be important because currently it can take an hour or more to produce a good MRI scan. That is a long time to lie motionless inside an MRI machine, especially for children or patients who are already unwell. The hope is to cut the time down to a few minutes.

How’s it work? MRI scans will be enhanced using what’s known as a generative model. Neural networks will be trained (using anonymized data) to fill in missing or degraded part of MRI scans. Larry Zitnick, the lead Facebook researcher on the project, says the key challenge will be making sure that nothing vital is left out of the touched-up pics.

Why tho? Fear not. Facebook assures us this isn’t a scheme to get users to post their MRI scans along with vacations pics. Rather, the hope is to advance an important machine learning technique, and to help attract AI researchers keen to work on meaningful stuff.

Machine medicine: Indeed, AI is poised to have a big impact on medicine and health care, but some serious challenges remain. It will be vital to make sure patient data is protected, to account for algorithmic bias, and to find ways to explain algorithmic reasoning.

Deep Dive

Artificial intelligence

Sam Altman says helpful agents are poised to become AI’s killer function

Open AI’s CEO says we won’t need new hardware or lots more training data to get there.

An AI startup made a hyperrealistic deepfake of me that’s so good it’s scary

Synthesia's new technology is impressive but raises big questions about a world where we increasingly can’t tell what’s real.

Taking AI to the next level in manufacturing

Reducing data, talent, and organizational barriers to achieve scale.

Is robotics about to have its own ChatGPT moment?

Researchers are using generative AI and other techniques to teach robots new skills—including tasks they could perform in homes.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.