IBM’s Watson

BBC has a story May 6 2015 about how IBM’s Watson can determine which cancer treatments are best for an individual, and how IBM is working with a bunch of health centers to make this available.

Most people currently diagnosed with cancer will receive surgery, chemotherapy or radiation treatment.

But as genetic sequencing becomes increasingly accessible and affordable, some patients are starting to benefit from treatments that target their specific cancer-causing genetic mutations.

However the process is very time-consuming – a single patient’s genome represents more than 100 gigabytes of data – and this needs to be combined with other medical records, journal studies and information about clinical trials.

What would take a clinician weeks to analyse can be completed by Watson in only a few minutes.

Watson has also been mentioned for the area of financial advice.  From the Street:

Schroeter noted that by opening up Watson through APIs, Watson would be less customized then going into certain areas of the economy, but the use cases are plentiful. The finance chief, who took over in January of last year, highlighted an example of Watson working in a call center for a financial advisor.

Cognitive computing will certainly become a huge part of our world someday, but I think the healthcare use, as well as military, will be the early adopters.  This is because those are the areas where cost is less important, or hidden.  These apps that IBM is selling right now are not making full use of the technology.

Computers really only became ubiquitous once the prices came down, and that happened due to competition.  Once someone comes up with HAL 9000 to compete with Watson, then we will see cognitive computing technology put to use in business on a broad scale.



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