DeepMind's Streams technology team to join Google

DeepMind Health pledges

Some background: Google acquired London-based artificial intelligence startup DeepMind in 2014 for $500 million.

Google looks to be getting a firmer hold on NHS patient data by absorbing its DeepMind Health AI lab - a leading United Kingdom health technology developer.

DeepMind co-founder and chief executive Demis Hassabis. It will now be controlled by parent company Google, DeepMind's founders announced in a blog post. Staff will remain in London under the leadership of former NHS surgeon and researcher Dominic King. "The research team at DeepMind will continue to lead the way in applying AI to important fundamental research questions in science and medicine".

A research team at DeepMind will continue independently of Google but the Health brand will be taken over.

A DeepMind spokesperson emphasised that the core of the promise remains intact: "All patient data remains under our partners' strict control, and all decisions about its use lie with them".

One of DeepMind Health's flagship products is Streams, an app aimed to help physicians in delivering better and faster care to patients. It's being used in several NHS hospitals.

"This isn't transparency, it is trust demolition", she wrote on Twitter.

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'When we have promising results that could have impact at scale, we'll work closely with the Streams and transnational research teams at Google on how to implement research ideas into clinical settings'.

The company, which gave us the Go-champion beating AlphaGo, has been in trouble before over patient privacy during tests of its Streams system to monitor patients remotely and alert doctors to issues before they arise.

Indeed, while DeepMind Health has until now provided the NHS with Streams for free, the company said in June that it planned to begin charging the NHS at a later date.

The news has raised concerns about the privacy of NHS patient's data which is used by DeepMind and could now be commercialised by Google.

As an audit by law firm Linklaters found earlier this year, the Streams app does not even involve artificial intelligence, machine learning or "other advanced technology".

"The benefits of the Streams app instead come from a very well-designed and user-friendly interface, backed up by solid infrastructure and data management", Linklaters wrote.

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