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How Google Is Using AI to Help Save Lives

At Google's I/O conference today (May 7), the company unveiled a number of new products and features for consumers incorporating its artificial intelligence. But Google also announced that its AI continues to branch out into healthcare and social good.

Google has partnered with the National Cancer Institute and Northwestern University to help detect early symptoms of lung cancer.

"We know that when cases are diagnosed early, patients have a higher chance of survival," a company representative said at the keynote. "But unfortunately, over 80 percent of lung cancers are not caught early."

Malignant lesions are small and difficult to spot on patient scans, the company explained. Google and its partners have developed a model that can spot lesions as well as or better than trained radiologists do. The model was allegedly able to spot a legion on one initial scan that "five out of six" human radiologists missed.

Google also continues developing algorithms to better forecast flood risk, a project that began last year. The company's model creates high-resolution elevation maps of areas with high flood risk and, using physics, simulates upcoming water movement. The AI's forecasts inform Google's Public Alerts, which broadcast early flood warnings to communities that are in danger.

Google is involved in several other projects as well, including speeding up emergency response times in New York and developing a "high-resolution monitoring network" to analyze public health policy in Uganda.