NVIDIA CEO Ties AI-Driven Medical Advances to Data-Driven Leaps in Every Industry

by Abdul Hamid Halabi

Radiology. Autonomous vehicles. Supercomputing. The changes sweeping through all these fields are closely related. Just ask NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang.

Speaking in Boston at the World Medical Innovation Forum to more than 1,800 of the world’s top medical professionals, Huang tied Monday’s news — that NVIDIA is collaborating with the American College of Radiology to bring AI to thousands of hospitals and imaging centers — to the changes sweeping through fields as diverse as autonomous vehicles and scientific research.

In a conversation with Keith Dreyer, vice chairman of radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital, Huang asserted that data science — driven by a torrent of data, new algorithms and advances in computing power — is becoming a fourth pillar of scientific discovery, alongside theoretical work, experimentation and simulation.

Putting data science to work, however, will require enterprises of all kinds to learn how to handle data in new ways. In the case of radiology, the privacy of the data is too important, and the expertise is local,  Huang told the audience. “You want to put computing at the edge,” he said.

As a result, the collaboration between NVIDIA and the American College of Radiology promises to enable thousands of radiologists nationwide to use AI for diagnostic radiology in their own facilities, using their own data, to meet their own clinical needs.

Huang began the conversation by noting that the Turing Award, “the Nobel Prize of computing,” had just been given to the three researchers who kicked off today’s AI boom: Yoshua Bengio, Geoffrey Hinton and Yann LeCunn.

“The takeaway from that is that this is probably not a fad, that deep learning and this data-driven approach where software and the computer is writing software by itself, that this form of AI is going to have a profound impact,” Huang said.

Huang drew parallels between radiology and other industries putting AI to work, such as automotive, where Huang sees an enormous need for computing power in autonomous vehicles that can put multiple intelligences to work, in real time, as they travel through the world.

Similarly, in medicine, putting one — or more — AI models to work will only enhance the capabilities of the humans guiding these models.

These models can also guide those doing cutting-edge work at the frontiers of science, Huang said, citing Monday’s announcement that the Accelerating Therapeutics for Opportunities in Medicine, or ATOM, consortium will collaborate with NVIDIA to scale ATOM’s AI-driven drug discovery program.

The big idea: to pair data science with more traditional scientific methods, using neural networks to help “filter” through the large combination of possible molecules to decide which ones to simulate to find candidates for in vitro testing, Huang explained

Software Is automation, AI Is the Automation of Automation

Huang sees such techniques being used in all fields of human endeavor — from science to front-line healthcare and even to running a technology company. As part of that process, NVIDIA has built one of the world’s largest supercomputers, SATURNV, to support its own efforts to train

AI models with a broad array of capabilities. “We use this for designing chips, for improving our systems, for computer graphics,” Huang said.

Such techniques promise to revolutionize every field of human endeavor, Huang said, asserting that AI is “software that writes software,” and that software’s “fundamental purpose is automation.”

“AI therefore is the automation of automation,” Huang said. “And if we can harness the automation of automation, imagine what good we could do.”