Western University is launching its first specialization in machine learning in hopes of fostering a monumental transformation in health care over the next decade.
“Data is the new oil in health and biomedical science,” said program co-developer and facilitator Jörn Diedrichsen, a computer science and statistics professor who also researches movement neuroscience through Western’s Brain and Mind Institute. “This will revolutionize health care in the next 10 years.”
Artificial intelligence is in the same field as machine learning, but with slightly different connotations, he said.
The new health and biomedical science program will be studied by master’s and doctoral students who hold computer science, health, engineering or medical degrees.
“The technology is mostly there (to) use algorithms to support medical decision-making,” Diedrichsen said. “For example, there is a lot of research going into detection of abnormalities caused by imaging. We have algorithms that can do it more sensitively than a radiographer or radiologist.”
“It’s basically (putting) the large amount of data that we have right now . . . to use, not just for scientific purposes, but to also make decisions.”
For example, when Amazon shows online ads “tailored to you,” that is artificial intelligence, or machine learning, at work, Diedrichsen said.
“In the health domain, it happens all the time, it’s already deeply ingrained in our society,” he said.
Western’s specialization, the only one of its kind in Ontario, is part of a bigger initiative that includes 700 to 1,000 master’s students across Canada.
It joins 26 other master’s programs recognized by the federally funded Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence, a non-profit group dedicated to expanding the AI sector in Canada, Diedrichsen said.
“It’s quite a Canadian success story – (Ottawa) has decided that this is something we need to invest in,” he said. “There are other artificial intelligence programs, but we are the only program to do machine learning specifically to help biomedical sciences.”
Given Western’s strong hospital and neuroscience program, the collaboration between computer science and engineering was “natural for us,” Diedrichsen said.
“It’s not that the computer replaces a human, but it helps the decision-making,” he said. “We’ve seen during the COVID pandemic, tracking COVID infections and modelling, it can really inform health decision-making.”
Another example, Diedrichsen said, is using algorithms to analyze how people speak to predict a potential for the onset of dementia or depression.
“Because there is so much data out there, we can help people make Situs Judi Slot Online Mudah Menang better health choices and improve diagnostics and . . . improve intervention,” he said. “The main hurdle is it’s very hard to navigate the data privacy and other ethical things.
“But we will have it.”
Prevention is much better than dealing with people in the emergency room, Diedrichsen said.