Google was hoping to release a massive dataset of chest x-rays to the public in 2017, but had to cancel at the last minute after receiving an urgent call from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
After reviewing various emails and conducting an interview with an anonymous source close to the incident, the Washington Post reported on the close call Nov. 15. According to the report, Google’s goal was to release a dataset of more than 100,000 chest x-ray images before an AI conference in Honolulu, Hawaii. NIH originally shared the images with Google, but then realized later some personal information had not been successfully scrubbed from images.
According to the Washington Post, the “fumbled project with NIH highlights potential pitfalls of Google’s ambitions with sensitive health data.” Google made headlines this month after details of its relationship with the Ascension health system were made public.
“We take great care to protect patient data and ensure that personal information remains private and secure,” Google spokesman Michael Moeschler said, as quoted by the Washington Post. “Out of an abundance of caution, and in the interest of protecting personal privacy, we elected to not host the NIH dataset. We deleted all images from our internal systems and did not pursue further work with NIH.”
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