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Artificial Knees

Images generated by AI improve orthopaedic classifications – and fool the experts

25 November 2022

Artificial Knees

The x-rays of osteoarthritic human knees on the top row are entirely fake – a research team generated them using an artificially intelligent algorithm – while those on the bottom row are genuine. Or, wait, is it the other way around? The point is, it’s impossible to tell, even for medical experts. Why have scientists gone to the effort of creating fake X-rays, you might ask. Rest assured, there’s more to it than simply trying to fool orthopaedic doctors. Having access to large amounts of patient data can be extremely useful for developing diagnostic, classification, and educational tools, but sharing genuine medical data can be a highly bureaucratic process. The idea, then, is that if AI can generate fake data of such high quality as to be indistinguishable from real patient data, it could be used to help build valuable tools without the hassle of untangling all the red tape.

Written by Ruth Williams

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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