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Causal Inference in Healthcare



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Recording Details

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PIRSA Number: 
20020066

Abstract

Causal reasoning is vital for effective reasoning in science and medicine. In medical diagnosis, for example, a doctor aims to explain a patient’s symptoms by determining the diseases causing them. This is because causal relations---unlike correlations---allow one to reason about the consequences of possible treatments. However, all previous approaches to machine-learning assisted diagnosis, including deep learning and model-based Bayesian approaches, learn by association and do not distinguish correlation from causation. I will show that these approaches systematically lead to incorrect diagnoses. I will outline a new diagnostic algorithm, based on counterfactual inference, which captures the causal aspect of diagnosis overlooked by previous approaches and overcomes these issues. I will additionally describe recent algorithms from my group which can discover causal relations from uncontrolled observational data and show how these can be applied to facilitate effective reasoning in medical settings such as deciding how to treat certain diseases.