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Inventors

Tom Deason

35 Innovators Under 35

Inventors

They’re building the technologies of the future, from stretchy electronics to new ways to test cancer drugs.

Shinjini Kundu, 27

Carnegie Mellon University

Medical images are so detailed it can be hard to decipher them. Her program can spot what people can’t.

Medical images are massively important in diagnosing disease, but as they get more detailed it becomes harder and harder for a human being to interpret them. Shinjini Kundu created an artificial-­intelligence system that can analyze them to find patterns undetectable to the naked eye. Her innovation could have a fundamental impact on the way we detect and treat diseases.

“If there are hidden changes and there is a way to detect these invisible patterns, then maybe we have a chance to diagnose diseases early, before symptoms develop,” she says.

There are already AI algorithms that teach themselves to spot patterns, but they’re not able to explain their reasoning. In medical diagnosis, this can be a limitation: without some knowledge of how and why a disease is developing, it’s impossible to address.

Kundu’s system allows humans to look through the eyes of the computer to discover otherwise imperceptible patterns that reveal the early disease process. She also trained the AI to pull out the disease markers from the images so that they can be seen on their own. That could help humans recognize them months or years before the onset of illness—so rather than just humans teaching AI, AI can teach us.

—Erika Beras

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