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Facebook Aims to Make MRI Scans Faster Using AI With New York University

Advanced image reconstruction might enable ultra-low-dose CT scans suitable for vulnerable populations, such as pediatric patients, Facebook said

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LinkedIn faced probe for Facebook ads targeting 18 mn non-members. Pixabay

Facebook has forged a partnership with the New York University (NYU) on a research project that aims to make magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans up to 10 times faster by leveraging the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

If the project, called fastMRI, yields the desired results, it will make MRI technology available to more people, expanding access to this key diagnostic tool, Facebook said in a blog post on Monday.

MRI scanners provide doctors and patients with images that typically show a greater level of detail related to soft tissues — such as organs and blood vessels — than is captured by other forms of medical imaging.

But they are relatively slow, taking anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour, compared with less than a second or up to a minute, respectively, for X-ray and CT scans.

These long scan times can make MRI machines challenging for young children, as well as for people who are claustrophobic or for whom lying down is painful.

Additionally, there are MRI shortages in many rural areas and in other countries with limited access, resulting in long scheduling backlogs.

Making MRI scanners faster has several benefits, including increased access to these devices for patients.

Sufficiently accelerated MRI devices could also reduce the amount of time patients must hold their breath during imaging of the heart, liver, or other organs in the abdomen and torso.

Increased speed could let MRI machines fill the role of X-ray and CT machines for some applications, allowing patients to avoid the ionising radiation associated with those scans.

MRI Scans
Making MRI scanners faster has several benefits, including increased access to these devices for patients. Pixabay

This NYU-Facebook project will initially focus on changing how MRI machines operate.

Currently, scanners work by gathering raw numerical data in a series of sequential views and turning the data into cross-sectional images of internal body structures that doctors then use to evaluate a patient’s health.

The larger the data set to be gathered, the longer the scan will take.

Using AI, it may be possible to capture less data and therefore scan faster, while preserving or even enhancing the rich information content of magnetic resonance images.

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The key is to train artificial neural networks to recognise the underlying structure of the images in order to fill in views omitted from the accelerated scan, Facebook said.

The Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR) group, believes that though this project will initially focus on MRI technology, its long-term impact could extend to many other medical imaging applications.

For example, the improvements afforded by AI have the potential to revolutionise CT scans as well.

Advanced image reconstruction might enable ultra-low-dose CT scans suitable for vulnerable populations, such as pediatric patients, Facebook said. (IANS)

Next Story

Social Networking Giant Facebook Allows Ads to Promote Anti-vaccine Content

“We’re currently working on additional changes that we’ll be announcing soon.”

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This photograph taken on May 16, 2018, shows a figurine standing in front of the logo of social network Facebook on a cracked screen of a smartphone in Paris. VOA

Facebook has enabled advertisers to promote anti-vaccine content to nearly nine lakh people interested in “vaccine controversies”, the media reported.

The social networking giant is already facing pressure to stop promoting anti-vaccine propaganda to users amid global concern over vaccine hesitancy and a measles outbreak in the Pacific northwest.

Advertisers pay to reach groups of people on Facebook which include those interested in “Dr Tenpenny on Vaccines”, which refers to anti-vaccine activist Sherri Tenpenny, and “informed consent”, which is language that anti-vaccine propagandists have adopted to fight vaccination laws, The Guardian reported on Friday.

On Thursday, California congressman Adam Schiff, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, in letters to Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, urged them to take more responsibility for health-related misinformation on their platforms.

“The algorithms which power these services are not designed to distinguish quality information from misinformation or misleading information, and the consequences of that are particularly troubling for public health issues,” Schiff wrote.

“I am concerned by the report that Facebook accepts paid advertising that contains deliberate misinformation about vaccines,” he added.

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Facebook, social media. Pixabay

In 2017, ProPublica, a US-based non-profit organisation, revealed that the platform included targeting categories for people interested in a number of anti-Semitic phrases, such as “How to burn Jews” or “Jew hater”.

While the anti-Semitic categories found by ProPublica were automatically generated and were too small to run effective ad campaigns by themselves, the “vaccine controversies” category contains nearly nine lakh people, and “informed consent” from about 340,000. The Tenpenny category only includes 720 people, which is too few to run a campaign.

Facebook declined to comment on the ad targeting categories, but said it was looking into the issue, The Guardian reported.

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“We’ve taken steps to reduce the distribution of health-related misinformation on Facebook, but we know we have more to do,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement responding to Schiff’s letter.

“We’re currently working on additional changes that we’ll be announcing soon.” (IANS)