Skip to Content
Artificial intelligence

DeepMind’s algorithm can predict serious kidney injury 48 hours before it happens

August 1, 2019
Dialysis
Dialysis
DialysisAP

It’s only accurate a little more than half the time, though, raising questions over whether and how it could be used in real-life settings.

The news: DeepMind, Google’s artificial-intelligence unit, has created a deep-learning system that analyzes someone’s health records, including information such as vital signs and blood test results, and then predicts the chance of acute kidney injury (AKI). In a paper published in the journal Nature yesterday, researchers showed they were able to predict 55.8% of cases up to 48 hours before they occurred. For more severe kidney injuries, such as those that would require dialysis at a later stage, the accuracy was closer to 90%. 

The promise: AKI contributes to almost 300,000 deaths in the US every year, and affects one out of every five patients admitted to hospital in America for serious care. However, if it’s caught and treated early, it can be reversed. That’s why this system is so promising: it could potentially save a lot of lives.

However: It was built using records from the US Department of Veterans Affairs, a training data set that was 94% male. It would need a lot more testing to confirm its utility in the general population. There were also many false positives.

DeepMind plans to incorporate the algorithm into its Streams app, which helps doctors at London’s Royal Free Hospital to identify patients at risk of developing AKI. Only then, after further testing, can we say for sure just how useful it will be.

For more on the world of AI, sign up here to our weekly AI newsletter, The Algorithm.

Deep Dive

Artificial intelligence

chasm concept
chasm concept

Artificial intelligence is creating a new colonial world order

An MIT Technology Review series investigates how AI is enriching a powerful few by dispossessing communities that have been dispossessed before.

open sourcing language models concept
open sourcing language models concept

Meta has built a massive new language AI—and it’s giving it away for free

Facebook’s parent company is inviting researchers to pore over and pick apart the flaws in its version of GPT-3

spaceman on a horse generated by DALL-E
spaceman on a horse generated by DALL-E

This horse-riding astronaut is a milestone in AI’s journey to make sense of the world

OpenAI’s latest picture-making AI is amazing—but raises questions about what we mean by intelligence.

labor exploitation concept
labor exploitation concept

How the AI industry profits from catastrophe

As the demand for data labeling exploded, an economic catastrophe turned Venezuela into ground zero for a new model of labor exploitation.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration 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.