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How the Next Generation is Building Artificial Intelligence

Teen scientists use machine and neural networks to detect and diagnose diseases, track space debris, design drones and justify conclusions at Intel ISEF 2017.

While sentient computer beings like HAL from the classic 2001: A Space Odyssey or Samantha from the 2013 film Her may still be on the distant horizon, some forms of artificial intelligenceArtificial Intelligence knows many different definitions, but in general it can be defined as a machine completing complex tasks intelligently, meaning that it mirrors human intelligence and evolves with time. () are already improving lives.

experts in the making

At the 2017 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) – where nearly 1,800 high school students gathered to present original research and compete for more than $4 million in prizes – the next generation of scientists used machine and artificial neural networksNeural Networks are simplified abstract models of the human brain. Usually they have different layers and many nodes. Each layer receives input on which it carries out simple computations, and passes on the result to the next layer, by the final layer the answer to whatever problem will be produced.  to find solutions to some of today’s most vexing problems. “ is critical to our future,” said Christopher Kang, a budding computer scientist from Richland, Washington, who won an ISEF award in the and intelligent machines category. Chris Kang developed an app that can detect skin cancer. “Humans have a limit as to how much data we can analyze,” he said. “ is extremely powerful in analyzing huge volumes of data and correlating it. It can be used to understand the already existing research we have and assimilate it. It can then analyze additional data and turn it into actionable insights.”

as Physician’s Assistant

After his father’s brush with skin cancer, Kang created an artificial neural network capable of identifying moles and skin lesions that are potentially cancerous. The teen created an app that lets users take an image of a questionable mole or lesion. The app is then able to determine if the skin anomaly appears cancerous, with a level of accuracy commensurate with a dermatologist. “Patients can get enough information to know whether or not they need to see a dermatologist,” Kang said. “Early detection is crucial because once skin cancer metastasizes, the probability of a five-year survival rate drops to a fifth of what it would be before,” he said.

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