AI researchers embrace Bitcoin technology to share medical data

Blockchain could let people offer health records for research — without losing control over them.

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Dexter Hadley thinks that artificial intelligence (AI) could do a far better job at detecting breast cancer than doctors do — if screening algorithms could be trained on millions of mammograms. But because of privacy laws in many countries, sensitive medical information remains largely off-limits to researchers and technology companies. So Hadley, a physician and computational biologist at the University of California, San Francisco, and his colleagues are building a system that allows people to share their medical data with researchers easily and securely — and retain control over it. The method is based on the blockchain technology that underlies the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. By May, the researchers will train their AI algorithm to detect cancer using mammograms that they hope to obtain from millions of US women.

By Amy Maxmen, Nature News


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