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Xiao Yi, an android robot created by engineers Chinese, has become the first non-human to pass the tests to become a doctor in China. The machine took the necessary information on board for over a year, and needed just one hour to pass an examination that usually lasts for ten. The humanoid is set to be deployed next year across the country to assist doctors.


In a world first, a Chinese robot has passed the written part of the national doctor’s examination, becoming the first non-human ever to achieve this feat. The candidate in question goes by the name of Xiao Yi – a humanoid machine using artificial intelligence and developed jointly by Chinese firm iFlytek and the University of Tsinghua in Beijing.


Ten-hour exam passed in one hour without consulting the Internet


20 Minutes newspaper reports that Xiao Yi got a score of 456 points out of 600 in the written test, with the android sitting in a different room from the actual flesh-and-blood students. The candidates had ten hours to complete this part of the selection test, but the machine needed just one to hand in its digital copy.

Even more surprising is that the humanoid was not connected to the Internet. To answer the questions, it had to rely on the knowledge and data that it had acquired over an intense revision period.


A year of intensive revision


Indeed, Xiao Yi worked hard in an attempt to be fully prepared and get the best possible mark in the Chinese medical examination, ploughing through no fewer than 2 million patient files, 400,000 documents and medical reports, a million images and 53,000 books, across a period of over a year.

These efforts certainly paid off, since the score obtained by the machine was far ahead of the average of the other candidates, which was 360. Xiao Yi’s 456 points were not enough to get the highest mark ever achieved in the test, which was 553 out of 600 – by a human, of course, meaning that the honour of our species is safe, for now).


Highly-qualified assistant


The question now is what to do with this unique and recently-qualified doctor. Future patients can breathe easily as they will not find themselves confronted with a robot as opposed to a human at the next consultation with their general practitioner. "What it can already do is provide doctors with suggestions to help them to identify problems as quickly as possible or avoid certain risks," explains Wu Ji, head of the electronic engineering research laboratory at the University of Tsinghua.

Models of Xiao Yi are set to be sent out right across China in 2018 to function as medical assistants alongside human professionals, thus helping in the diagnostic process and taking part in medical training programmes.


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