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Managing Type 1 Diabetes Is Tricky. Can AI Help?

There’s still a long road to AI-powered diabetes tech. Under both United States and United Kingdom medical device regulations, commercially available automated insulin delivery systems—without AI—fall in the highest risk class. AI-driven systems are in the early stages of development, so conversations about how they should be regulated are only just beginning.

Emerson’s experiment was entirely virtual—testing AI-assisted insulin delivery in people raises a host of safety concerns. In a life-or-death situation like insulin dosing, giving control to a machine could be dicey. “By the nature of learning, you could absolutely take a step in the wrong direction,” says Marc Breton, a professor at the University of Virginia’s Center for Diabetes Technology who was not involved in this project. “A small deviation from the prior rule can create massive differences in the output. That’s the beauty of it, but it’s also dangerous.”

Emerson focused on reinforcement learning, or RL, a machine learning technique based on trial and error. In this case, the algorithm was…

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