When Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings went head to head with Watson, he signed off his Final Jeopardy answer with a postscript of “I, for one, welcome our new computer overlords”. His tongue in cheek comment was a jab at the “rise of the machines” and A.I. that at some point is hell bent to do us all in. Watson was presented as the alpha of these machines with its cognitive ability. As we have moved on from the Jeopardy side show, IBM has moved to implement Watson in other areas such as finance and healthcare.
The article “IBM’s Watson versus cancer: Hype meets reality”, its an interesting and extensive piece on the usage of Watson at pre-eminent cancer centers like Memorial Sloan Kettering. To provide an oversimplification, the article discusses how the technology of Watson is helpful for diagnosing and information, it limited by the input from the doctors and researchers. In a similar vein to the process behind building Watson to “Win at Jeopardy”, the scope of “Treating Cancer” is an even more fortuitous challenge, especially compared to the outcomes of each task.
Watson in the medical field has become more of a collaborative tool than becoming the AI authority it was once pitched as. As Watson learns from these bright medical minds, and the centuries of learning they have accrued, I wonder what processes are going to be put in place to standardize the information Watson is learning and to limit the bias that can come from human input. Going forward with Watson it seems that it will be less the computer overlord, and more a partnering device to advance human learning and information. For more information give the article a read. Very interested to see what people think, and other future implementations of Watson’s technology.