Samuel Scarpino's passion for artificial intelligence and why Northeastern is a world leader in the field

Samuel Scarpino’s passion for artificial intelligence and why Northeastern is a world leader in the field

Professor Samuel Scarpino has returned to Northeastern University after a year-long stint as Vice President of Pathogen Surveillance at the Rockefeller Foundation with a mission to solidify Northeastern’s place as a global leader in pathogen surveillance. artificial intelligence and life sciences.

Since November, Scarpino has served as director of AI and life sciences at Northeastern’s Institute for Experiential AI. Previously, he was an assistant professor at the Network Science Institute.

Scarpino recently sat down with News@Northeastern to answer questions about what makes Northeastern a dominant presence in AI. His comments have been edited for clarity and brevity.

What about Northeastern making the university a leader in AI?

The real strength of Northeastern is the high degree of importance it places on transdisciplinary collaboration and partnerships between businesses and universities.

Part of the reason Northeastern is uniquely positioned to lead in this area is the word “experiential,” which means cooperatives, but it also means humans in the loop. We can do so much more with AI and humans than with AI alone or humans alone. The idea is that the AI ​​will detect things that we might miss. Humans can also pick up things the AI ​​might miss.

Can you give us an example?

The UK has procedures where mammograms will be scanned by AI systems. Some of these mammograms will also be reviewed by expert panels.

portrait of samuel scarpino
Samuel Scarpino, assistant professor at the Network Science Institute of the Northeast. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

A computer can read 10,000 mammograms without having to take a break. I can’t remember off the top of my head how much an expert pathologist can read before having to take a break, but that’s not much, is it?

Former UK Prime Minister Theresa May said AI could reduce cancer deaths by 10% a year.

AI is not a silver bullet, but I would definitely commit to preventing 10% of cancer deaths. For the ultimate clinical diagnosis, the clinician would have both the AI ​​reading and potentially the input from the expert diagnostic panel.

You talked about the importance of AI in predicting disease states and the tragedy of the existence of anonymized health data that is not used for clinical purposes. How could it be better used? And what are the privacy implications?

I am not a privacy expert. Part of the reason I joined the Institute for Experiential AI at Northeastern is that it has privacy and ethics experts.

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