Alphabet CFO: Our AI is so good we can detect breast cancer with less data than ever

Major breakthroughs are now possible with less data than ever thanks to artificial intelligence, Alphabet Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat said during a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland Tuesday.

Artificial intelligence “learns” patterns by ingesting typically large amounts of data and then using that information to complete a task, like sorting data into different buckets. Porat said less data is required than before to see impactful results from AI, citing a recent example of medical breakthrough aided by Alphabet technology.

Google, which is owned by Alphabet, claimed in an October blog post it had created an AI that could “correctly distinguish a slide with metastatic cancer from a slide without cancer 99% of the time.” Google said the breakthrough could indicate that AI could play a role in repetitive diagnostic procedures, freeing up time for doctors to focus on more difficult tasks.

“We needed only hundreds of biopsies from breast cancer patients — hundreds — in order to have a breakthrough in metastatic breast cancer because of the developments in AI,” Porat said.

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