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IBM Is Counting on Its Bet on Watson

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Melody Bot, Oct 27, 2016.

  1. Melody Bot

    Your friendly little forum bot. Staff Member

    This article has been imported from for discussion. All of the forum rules still apply.

    New York Times:

    At the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Watson was tested on 1,000 cancer diagnoses made by human experts. In 99 percent of them, Watson recommended the same treatment as the oncologists.

    In 30 percent of the cases, Watson also found a treatment option the human doctors missed. Some treatments were based on research papers that the doctors had not read — more than 160,000 cancer research papers are published a year. Other treatment options might have surfaced in a new clinical trial the oncologists had not yet seen announced on the web.

    I had a “holy shit” moment reading this.

    trevorshmevor likes this.
  2. ReiAndCoke


    And I thought Watson beating Ken Jennings on Jeopardy! was impressive....
  3. omgrawr

    That loneliness is not a function of solitude.

    Wow, that's amazing. My dad currently has cancer and we've had issues with doctors so far not knowing what's going on all the time and also seemingly letting pride getting in the way of admitting error and therefore not adjusting his treatment as they should. We were being told he was going to die a few weeks ago and to give up. Then we requested a second scan and it turned out he didn't have a perforated bowel that they thought he did. It was incredible news that we were ecstatic to receive, but it was frustrating that we basically had to beg for them to take a second look based off of us seeing that he didn't experience some of the symptoms they thought he should have been.

    Having an AI help diagnose with just the pure goal of finding answers and suggesting treatments would be incredible. The fact that it can read basically all of the research ever done on a topic or affliction is such an advantage. I think people should certainly be involved in a medical treatment process as well, but I think this is the future and reading this is encouraging for healthcare as well as all the other purposes I'm sure it will serve.
    emeryk3, Luroda and Dan O'Neill like this.
  4. Doctor Proper


    This isn't quite as monumental as it might appear. For one thing, medical research is quite diverse and often statistically unreliable. Furthermore, although it's tempting to seek out novelty--especially in desperate cases that lack solutions--it isn't always better. Ultimately, the fact that Watson's recommendations were generally in keeping with those of oncologists seems to suggest something positive about the competence of these "human experts," and/or that (in its current form, at least) Watson isn't all that helpful.

    This article certainly showcases the translational capacity of IBM's technology, but the nature of the algorithms in both cases is essentially the same. At this point, Watson's primary strength is natural language processing, which means that it's well-equipped to handle text-based information (medical records and research articles, for instance), but its ability to dissect more complex data--like medical images--is much less impressive.