"There are so many things wrong with this app that I don’t even know where to begin."

Cake Walk

A new healthcare app claims that its AI can detect sexually transmitted infections (STIs) with a 94.4 percent accuracy rate — but it apparently couldn't distinguish between penis-shaped novelty objects and, you know, actual genitals.

In experiments with Calmara.ai conducted by the Los Angeles Times, a reporter found that not only did the newly-released app give clean bills of health to both a cake and a vase that were shaped like dicks, but that it also failed to recognize very obvious STIs from healthcare websites while flagging normal bumps on uninfected junk as suspicious.

Using images from various health care providers, the LA Times found that generally speaking, Calmara was able to detect things like chlamydia, herpes, and the human papillomavirus, which causes genital warts.

But issues remain. In one photo of someone whose case of syphilis got so bad that their foreskin couldn't retract, Calmara gave a "clear" rating.

Genital Anesthesia

Not only is that oversight cause for concern, but according to some experts, that strange measurement system could easily lead the app, which is run by the startup HeHealth, to overlook conditions that often are not visible to the eye.

"There are so many things wrong with this app that I don’t even know where to begin," Dr. Ina Park, a UC San Francisco professor and CDC consultant, told the newspaper. "With any tests you’re doing for STIs, there is always the possibility of false negatives and false positives. The issue with this app is that it appears to be rife with both."

Even HeHealth's own scientific adviser, University of Southern California infectious disease specialist Jeffrey Klausner, admits that Clamara "can’t be promoted as a screening test."

"To get screened for STIs, you’ve got to get a blood test. You have to get a urine test," Klausner told the LA Times. "Having someone look at a penis, or having a digital assistant look at a penis, is not going to be able to detect HIV, syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea. Even most cases of herpes are asymptomatic."

Alongside those concerns are others, including the potential for nonconsensual or underage penis pics being uploaded, and for the app to stigmatize normal physiological differences as "something sus," per its cloying lingo.

"If I am 18 years old, I take a picture of something that is a normal occurrence as part of the human body, [and] I get this that says that it’s ‘sus’? Now I’m stressing out," Joni Roberts, an assistant professor at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo who runs the school's sexual health lab, told the newspaper.

Between the failed experiments and the massive caveats, the main "sus" thing here seems to be Calmara itself.

More on medical AI: Doctors Using AI to Automatically Generate Clinical Notes on Patients

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