Published: Fri, November 16, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

DeepMind Health Team Moving to Google

DeepMind Health Team Moving to Google

Privacy advocates say that by allowing Google to absorb Streams, DeepMind now has little hope of guaranteeing patient data will be used in an ethical way.

With the well-publicised scandals around the use of users' personal information by large advertising-driven technology firms such as Google and Facebook, Google's direct involvement with the NHS is likely to come as a shock to many. In that time, we've also made major advances in healthcare AI research: "detecting eye disease more quickly and accurately than experts; planning cancer radiotherapy treatment in seconds rather than hours; and working to detect patient deterioration from electronic records", said DeepMind in a blog post.

DeepMind, which was founded by Demis Hassabis, Shane Legg and Mustafa Suleyman in 2010, is a British artificial intelligence company. DeepMind said it would never connect Streams with Google. But privacy campaigners worry that DeepMind's ultimate parent firm Google, whose core business model relies on data, may try and suck up patient information to benefit its bottom line.

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A DeepMind spokesperson emphasised that the core of the promise remains intact: "All patient data remains under our partners' strict control, and all decisions about its use lie with them". In other words, the restructuring is rather an internal reorganization of sorts so that Google Health emerges as the sole entity that has to do with all research projects, AI or otherwise, undertaken by the company in the health realm. "This isn't transparency, it's trust demolition" However, Google has defended the use of the app, stating that the app's accuracy is backed-up by detailed evidence and it meets data security and privacy concerns.

Its goal is to solve general intelligence and make machines capable of learning for themselves.

United Kingdom medical privacy group MedConfidential referred to a 2016 BBC article in which DeepMind was said to be ensuring that Streams data "isn't shared with Google".

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