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    The Retinator II: Judgment Day?

    Most human aspect of computers is they are, as humans, prone to err

     

    Job security, for now

    So, if computers can be as good as—if not better than—humans, why am I still working? Well, it turns out that as “smart” as these algorithms have become, they still sometimes fail. Like humans, computers also learn based on what and how they are taught, and can sometimes learn the wrong things.

    For example, “black box” algorithms learn by analyzing each pixel within the reference images, and in doing so, may erroneously discover and associate features that have nothing to do with diabetic retinopathy. Changes to a few pixels in a retinal image may cause the algorithm to miss diabetic retinopathy that is readily apparent to human graders or clinician-mimicking algorithms (Lynch SK, et al. ARVO Abstract 2690643, 2017). Even in artificial intelligence, perhaps the most human aspect of computers is that they are, as humans, still prone to err.

    In the original Terminator movie, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a cyborg assassin sent to ensure the rise of a machine-dominated world. Of course, the Terminator fails because, well, humans always prevail in movies, and he had to fail in order to guarantee a sequel. In Terminator II, however, the Terminator returns not to destroy humanity but to protect it, and in a classic Hollywood twist, is portrayed not just as a ruthless machine but something subtly more human, with a hint of emotion, humor, and perhaps even a conscience.

    It has been years since Schwarzenegger starred in a decent movie, and similarly at this point, I don’t expect the Retinator to replace me any time soon.

    However, work is already under way to enhance these diagnostic systems by integrating information from more data sources, such as OCT, and to broaden their capability in detecting multiple diseases.

    Man and machine

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