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AI IBM Medicine

Just Months After Jeopardy!, Watson Wows Doctors 291

Posted by Soulskill
from the do-no-harm-while-killing-all-humans dept.
kkleiner writes "Following its resounding victory on Jeopardy!, IBM's Watson has been working hard to learn as much about medicine as it can with a steady diet of medical textbooks and healthcare journals. In a recent demonstration to the Associated Press, Watson showed a promising ability to diagnose patients. The demonstration was a success, and it is the hope of IBM and many medical professionals that in the coming years Watson will lend doctors a helping hand as they perform their daily rounds."
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Just Months After Jeopardy!, Watson Wows Doctors

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  • "...in the coming years Watson will lend doctors a helping hand as they perform their daily rounds."

    So basically, between the nurses and the computer, the doctors will now just have to smile and nod?

    I am kidding of course, the more tools that medical professionals have the better.

    [J]
    • Kidding about what? When this kind of technology becomes affordable, and it will, you might need someone (ie, a nurse) to describe the visible symptoms and translate the patient's complaints to the Digital Doctor (tm). If need be, the DD will review digitized x-rays, cat scans or mri's and then come up with a diagnosis and treatment that is probably at least as good as a doctor and will be less expensive.

      Sometimes I think I'd actually like something like this if it can do a better job than a human. At the l

      • by Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @11:40PM (#36371112)

        It will absolutely do a better job than a bad human. This should make a major difference in the long tail--i.e. things that aren't the obvious problem to the doctor, notably in second and third-rate hospitals. It will make procedural screw-ups a bigger cause of death and hospital problems as compared to medical malpractice. (I'm not sure what the ratio is now.)

        It will also make humans more dumb and less thoughtful over time. That is, diagnostic skills will go down as diagnosis becomes done more and more by computer. The excellent doctors will still be excellent, but there will be even *less* requirement to really *think* about a problem than there is now.

        • by hoggoth (414195)

          > It will also make humans more dumb and less thoughtful over time. That is, diagnostic skills will go down as diagnosis becomes done more and more by computer. The excellent doctors will still be excellent, but there will be even *less* requirement to really *think* about a problem than there is now.

          And THAT is when us programmers will finally be the last thinking humans on Earth! Mwah-hah-hah! You pretty little Eloi go on having your pick-nicks in the sun while we... um... toil in our basements to make

        • by Unkyjar (1148699)

          Actually it is procedural screw ups ARE medical malpractice. They are a major cause of death which is why there is a growing movement of getting hospitals to follow check lists during procedures.

          • > Actually it is procedural screw ups ARE medical malpractice. They are a major cause of death which is why there is a growing movement of getting hospitals to follow check lists during procedures.

            True strictly speaking. Check lists aren't just appropriate for procedures--there should be protocols for everything. Otherwise patients get the wrong meals delivered to their room, for example, which can be a major medical problem. A simple series of steps that people follow prevents a huge number of deaths

        • by CycleMan (638982) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @02:34AM (#36371944)
          I wonder if, 25 years after this, "the excellent doctors will still be excellent"? There will always be a range of ability levels, but how will the range change with this? One thing I've heard from my pilot friends is that the commercial airline industry used to be able to rely on very good pilots coming out of the military and taking civilian jobs flying big jetliners. Since the average number of hours of flying time for a commercial airline pilot was high, the pilots were very capable in handling unusual situations. Now that fewer ex-military pilots are being created, commercial airlines are pulling from other places and getting less-qualified individuals as a result, and their relative lack of flight time is cited as a factor in some incidents. So the likelihood of "excellent" pilots is decreasing, due to the declining caliber of the collective pool of pilots from which to draw excellent ones. I can't demonstrate conclusively that this is analogous to the situation we will experience in medicine with increased computerized diagnostics but I think it is an important question to work through.
        • by twebb72 (903169)

          It [Watson] will also make humans more dumb and less thoughtful over time

          I would argue the quite the opposite. Statistical probability is what Watson does, and knowing comparatively, the likelihood of having one illness over another is a very valuable learning tool; its not at all limited to a diagnostic tool. Using a system like that would be akin to knowing how to Google well. I know for certain that I've been able to educate myself, faster, by having access to relevant search results. Having a resource like Watson and looking at his suggestions, objectively, would unilaterall

        • by ipwndk (1898300)

          I highly doubt it will make humans dumber. It's not as if our brain capacity lowers. And it's not like we have become dumber as technology has advanced; the opposite is actually the case.

          What future doctors should know however is what will change. Perhaps they can work on better treatments, now that they do not need to worry about diagnostics.

          Basically, as technology levels increase, the academic level on the Universities increase. But that's already the case, so relax. (Or should be; sometimes the levels d

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      Well kidding aside its a very logical step. Expert systems have been around since the 80's, though those usually required a data line and subscription along with careful and tedious professional coding, that spawned a career path for many.

      Watson as its called is an experiment to refine the system that has not changed *much* since hypercard and HTML, using the next generation of balls out IBM power in "AI" experts systems... it could make a dent in the way mass data is managed.

    • by geekmux (1040042)

      "...in the coming years Watson will lend doctors a helping hand as they perform their daily rounds." So basically, between the nurses and the computer, the doctors will now just have to smile and nod? I am kidding of course, the more tools that medical professionals have the better. [J]

      The more tools the better? Tell that the the auto assembly line worker who just got replaced by...a robot.

      This is one way to make costs go down and health insurance affordable again, considering that a good portion of that bloated cost we pay for medicine and healthcare in general today is to cover malpractice and insurance related to it. Seems malpractice will likely be down considerably when you no longer have those pesky humans that make mistakes getting in the way.

      Of course, since insurance companies

      • Wait what, you're worried about the a shortage or make-work jobs for skilled doctors? Are you kidding me?

      • Why would insurance companies be opposed to medical expert systems?

        A computerized billing and coding system could analyze patient records, second-guess doctors, and reject claims faster than thousands of weak human employees...
        • Why would insurance companies be opposed to medical expert systems? A computerized billing and coding system could analyze patient records, second-guess doctors, and reject claims faster than thousands of weak human employees...

          Legal responsibility trasfer. if an insurance company ever accepted the validity of an expert system, it could not delay payment by claiming any error, etc.

      • by Osgeld (1900440)

        what? just got replaced by a robot

        news flash chief, if you had a worthless job that a robot could perform without question, you were replaced 20+ years ago

        wake up union joe

        • There are exceedingly few jobs that cannot be replaced by robots in principle. Jobs that make no sense if done by a robot (Congressman, President), and jobs that center on social interaction (floor sales, etc.) are the only ones that come to mind. Almost anything else can be done by a robot, and probably better than almost any human, in principle. In practice it just becomes a question of developing hardware/software suitable to the task. Oh, I suppose we can add building the FIRST robot who designs and

  • ...welcome our robomedical overlords! Now, Mr. Watson, I've a raging case of hemorrhoids and a fissure that would drive even the sternest of men mad with rage. Help.

    • by c0lo (1497653)
      Watson: I'll refer you to one of my idiotic human assistants to remove them, this is totally under my stature.
  • I always got the feeling my doctor was just googling my symptoms to come up with a diagnosis. Now I guess they won't be hiding it. I just hope that it doesn't make any silly mistakes like prescribing hysterectomies for men.
    • by robot256 (1635039)
      I'm sure that if Watson suggested a hysterectomy for a male, it would be because it was totally stumped and would give a very low confidence value. That's the reason we would still have doctors even if the computer worked great most of the time--hopefully the doctors can catch the computer's mistakes as much as the computer can catch the doctors' mistakes.
    • by crovira (10242) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @10:58PM (#36370788) Homepage

      That dweeb will almost kill you twice or three times with misdiagnoses before he finds the right one.

      • Better hope no one accidentally fed Watson some House scripts!
      • by Nirvelli (851945) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @11:54PM (#36371176)
        Only because you lied to him about something !
        • House counts ignorance of the facts as lying; If someone close to you has done something which caused your condition and you don't tell him about it, despite not knowing about it yourself, you're still lying to him in his eyes.

          As enjoyable a show that it is, I absolutely would not let House anywhere near me in a medical setting.

          Besides, this all confirms my opinion that GPs are nothing but walking encyclopedias, and have no actual problem solving ability. If A, then B, if A and C, then D. IMHO, unless the
    • by hoggoth (414195)

      Medical Assistant XP Plus: It appears you are trying to make a list of symptoms, shall I turn that into a formatted, numbered list for you?

    • by Kagura (843695)

      I always got the feeling my doctor was just googling my symptoms to come up with a diagnosis. Now I guess they won't be hiding it. I just hope that it doesn't make any silly mistakes like prescribing hysterectomies for men.

      Have you ever actually questioned a doctor on the specifics of anything? I did today when I was with my oral surgeon, and it's amazing how much they actually know. Any question I asked them, they had the answer instantly.

      • by mwvdlee (775178)

        He's an oral surgeon and you gave him an oral exam; obviously he was good at it.
        Next time try questioning a brain surgeon and see what happens.

  • FTA: "To make the interactions Jeopardy!-style, speech solutions developer Nuance is currently working with IBM to provide Watson speech recognition software customized with medical jargon. Doctors could query Watson’s database on the go by speaking into a handheld device."

    Fuck speech solutions. Why do we keep getting this crap pushed on us? Have the doctor text-message the frigging thing and not risk any speech-ambuiguity errors.

    Judging from how well speech-menu phone systems work for me, I would run

    • I work in medical transcription, on a system developed and promoted by Nuance, one that incorporates speech recognition to aid in the transcription of the notes that must be produced for each patient encounter. I can type transcription at a rate of around 185-200 65-char lines per hour. Add in a speech rec engine and I can get 475-525 an hour. It's not hard to figure out that it's all for the productivity boost and cost-cutting effect that speech rec adds to the patient care cost equation.

      • by Grygus (1143095)

        Not to mention that you want doctors to actually use the system, which is less likely if you're giving them a bunch of extra stuff to type. That makes it feel administrative; many doctors feel burdened by paperwork as it is.

      • by dcollins (135727)

        But if it's not right, and someone dies because of it, then frankly I don't care about the ~300 extra lines per hour. Especially when dealing with critical/technical symptom input as in the demo of TFA.

        • by Carnivore (103106)

          I'm by no means an expert, but I remember an article a while back about offshore medical transcription services being used, and the transcriptionists not being native English speakers. This led to confusion over homophones and differentiating 15 and 50, etc. I think that we already have the problems that you're worried about. If the speech recognition displayed the transcript immediately, it could be corrected in real time.

    • In order for a doctor to use a text input device, they'd have to be able to spell. And given the number of times my pharmacists have had to call for clarification or "interpret" a doctor's scrawl, I'm pretty sure the vast majority of them can't.

      But that doesn't change the fact that speech-recognition technology still can't deal with accents very well, and it's been a long, long time since I've seen a doctor who was born and raised in north america.

    • FTA: "To make the interactions Jeopardy!-style, speech solutions ... Watson speech recognition software is customized with medical jargon. Doctors could query Watson’s database on the go by speaking into a handheld device.

      Makes me think of this:

      "I'll take Animal Genitalia - Audio Clues" for 200 Alex. - Colin Mochrie, "Whose Line is it Anyway?"

  • ...here we come!

    All kidding aside, computers are certainly great at memorizing and regurgitating information, especially highly complex information with numerous variables involved. However, they're still a ways to go before they can actually create new information. Once they can do that though, that's when AI becomes a reality.

    • Re:Idiocracy... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Grygus (1143095) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @10:55PM (#36370766)

      You do realize that memorizing and regurgitating known information is the perfect skill for 99.9% of medical diagnosis? As long as Watson knows how to say, "I don't know" it will be as good or better than the vast majority of humans at this particular task.

      • by c0lo (1497653)

        You do realize that memorizing and regurgitating known information is the perfect skill for 99.9% of medical diagnosis?

        As the GPP said: "Idiocracy, here we come".

        Do you realize that about 20 years ago, a good physician was good because of thinking rather than regurgitating?
        Believe me, the good ones were much better than today's GP-s + the whole lot of newer lab kits. Granted, bad physicians of the time were much worse than today.

        • by timeOday (582209)
          I disagree; doctors cannot and should not be making up medicine as they go along. Medical practice (as opposed to medical research) is fundamentally the same as car repair; you map a set of symptoms to the correct treatment. A doctor who imagines himself to have some great inductive gift is a danger to his/her patients, because their eccentricities are almost certainly nothing more than bias, or anomalies in the small sample size constituting their personal experience.

          I'm not sure how thinking vs. regur

          • by c0lo (1497653)

            I disagree; doctors cannot and should not be making up medicine as they go along.

            Mate, I didn't say the MD-es making up medicine, but to think and make correlations while diagnosis. If you want an image of what I meant (even though a bit exaggerated), think House in a time where the labs and medical tests weren't so many and evolved.

            Medical practice (as opposed to medical research) is fundamentally the same as car repair; you map a set of symptoms to the correct treatment

            And this is where I don't agree. Because it is not just mapping symptoms, it is about discovering and, if possible, treating the causes. You can't do it without thinking, in many times creative and lateral thinking. Of course, a good MD won't act until s/he

    • Re:Idiocracy... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by similar_name (1164087) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @11:02PM (#36370818)

      However, they're still a ways to go before they can actually create new information.

      This is true of most people.

      Once they can do that though, that's when AI becomes a reality.

      I always found it interesting that computers are never good enough until they can beat the best that humanity has to offer. Computers could beat most people at chess long before beating grand masters, but it wasn't until computers could beat the best human in the world that they were good enough. Likewise, Watson had to beat the best Jeopardy players before being good enough. So now, computers have to be better than the best doctor before being good enough. So, even if you make a computer that could graduate in the middle of a class of doctors, it won't be good enough until it can do better than them all. I just find it interesting as it says so much about us.

      • by lennier (44736)

        So, even if you make a computer that could graduate in the middle of a class of doctors, it won't be good enough until it can do better than them all.

        I for one eagerly await the pilot episode of "Doogie HX9000 Model 101, M.D.".

      • They not only have to beat the best human at challenging subjects... they have to beat all of the best humans in all subjects.

        As soon as an AI masters a challenge suddenly the question becomes. "But can it write a symphony like Beethoven?" To which I always reply, "Can you?"

  • by tehpuppet (1065678) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @10:54PM (#36370752)

    Hello Patient, my name is Dr Sbaitso.

    I am here to help you.
    Say whatever is in your mind freely,
    our conversation will be kept in strict confidence.
    Memory contents will be wiped off after you leave,

    So, tell me about your problems..

    • by antdude (79039)

      Is there an IRC version of him? I have used a few IRC chat bots like rbot, seeborg, and howie but they're not that good.

      • Neither was Dr. Sbaitso - it was really just a simple Eliza-style program. The fun part was the text-to-speech.

        • by antdude (79039)

          Hmm, I recall Dr. was better in communication. I wished there was a learning chat AI bot for IRC that was decent.

    • by DrogMan (708650)
      Eliza, is that you?
  • As long as it doesn't play second fiddle to a crappy search mechanism in the old Mac OS, it should do fine.

  • and then order a lumbar puncture, MRI and broad spectrum antibiotics for the infection and then ridicule its human doctors' diagnoses with its acerbic wit?
    • by malakai (136531)

      Don't forget to always first assume it's paraneoplastic syndrome, and then do the long drug addled stare when it turns out not to be.

  • drwatson (Score:4, Funny)

    by DigitAl56K (805623) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @10:59PM (#36370790)

    Not recommended! He only responds to crashes, and most of the time you end up being disassembled...

  • I'm sorry Mr. Smith, but it appears you have an acute case of Toronto.
  • by Nutria (679911) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @11:05PM (#36370836)

    LISP and Prolog-based expert systems 30 years ago?

    • I'm sure that Watson's speech recognition probably won't do very well with LISPs.
    • by brusk (135896) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @11:24PM (#36370978)
      Not quite. The idea then was that we would teach the machines the rules, and they would follow them better/more cheaply than a human brain. The innovation here is that the system goes and looks at the published medical literature and figures out the rules on its own.
      • by ArwynH (883499) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @12:18AM (#36371300)

        IIRC my AI classes correctly, those systems worked. At least they had a very high accuracy, higher than most doctors. The problem was not technical, but legal. Who do you sue if the computer gets it wrong?

        Which makes me wonder: will this system will fair any better?

        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          Human doctors should be checking the results for themselves, using the expert system as an aide to memory and exploring every option. Therefore there should not be any legal issues, any more than there are with textbooks that lead a doctor to the incorrect conclusion. The doctor is supposed to know better and to evaluate the suggestions, not simply follow them.

          In this case it sounds like they basically made House in machine form. A doctor with a superhuman ability to connect symptoms and draw on vast amount

      • That sounds bogus. How can an AI go out on its own and comprehend free-form text? We're not there yet by a long shot.

        Perhaps you mean, there are people who spend each day reading papers and converting them into a record that the AI can use to train its model? That's certainly feasible, but I wouldn't call it a true innovation from the previous technology.

        • I was watching a documentary - made in the 1960s - where people travelling in spaceships not only routinely conversed with computers, but also had a device which would instantly recognize alien languages and translate back and forth.

          The main dude in the doc was quite the swordsman; even did it with a green chick.

          Anyways, this technology has been available for decades. You have too keep up, or be drowned in a Hype-R-Wave.

    • What is new is that it works. The concept of a system that can search through all kinds of data and intelligently answer natural language questions is something that people have been trying at for a long time. However Watson works. There are restrictions, it is domain specific (the original Watson was for Jeopardy questions), it isn't perfect, and so on, but it works.

      Hence all the excitement. It isn't that other systems didn't want to do something like this or promise this, it is that Watson delivers.

  • Potentially Useful (Score:4, Interesting)

    by izomiac (815208) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @11:11PM (#36370880) Homepage
    Personally, I seriously doubt that Watson will ever advance to being able to replace a doctor for non-trivial complaints. First of all, humans are better at image processing, so if a patient looks like death then they aren't going to ask questions to rule out minor complaints. Second, patients usually don't know how to describe their symptoms, and it's up to the doctor to make sense of what they're describing (keeping in mind that some exaggerate, some understate, and others outright lie). Third, clinical references are written for humans, so they often omit various "obvious" things (e.g. to get Lyme you have to have been bitten by a tick, which may not be very likely in Barrow, Alaska).

    OTOH, I can see Watson being immensely useful on the back end. For example, which second-line blood pressure medications have been show to be highly effective with few side effects in 65 year old male caucasians who also have diabetes, and, of those, which has the best interaction profile with the other drugs this patient is taking? Clinical guidelines help, but they're obviously simplified and generalized. It'd take a human ages to research the literature to figure that out, but an AI like Watson could potentially do it in a few seconds. Such a tool could take a lot of the guesswork out of medicine.
    • by Kozz (7764)

      ...which second-line blood pressure medications have been show to be highly effective with few side effects in 65 year old male caucasians who also have diabetes, and, of those, which has the best interaction profile with the other drugs this patient is taking?

      Hopefully Watson is never fed the content from Slashdot, or it will short-circuit from all the "repeat after me: correlation is not causation", and thus never choose any remedy.

    • by hoggoth (414195)

      "Please state the nature of the medical emergency..."

    • You're jumping to the wrong conclusion. Watson and similar systems are not intended to replace humans. At least, not in the sense of removing them completely. They fall into the typical garbage-in-garbage-out situation where you need a real expert, like a doctor, to describe the symptoms so the system can produce a valid diagnosis.

      Here's how it's actually going to work. The doctor will spend more time talking to the patient to get an accurate understanding of symptoms. The expert system will then tell the d

    • by Dachannien (617929) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @12:59AM (#36371508)

      First of all, humans are better at image processing

      Medical image processing is a rapidly advancing field, but it's not a lack of technological advances that will stand in the way of automatic diagnoses based on x-ray/CT/MRI. Instead, the threat of malpractice will require that doctors manually inspect the images and render a diagnosis. Otherwise, you could probably expect automatic diagnosis from medical imaging in the next decade or so (or sooner, depending on what kinds of illness or injury you're looking for).

      Malpractice is such a threat to medical imaging technology that a lot of medical imaging system manufacturers are afraid even to implement simple noise reduction techniques. If a cancerous spot gets removed as noise from an image and the doctor misses it, it could be a multimillion dollar suit against both the doctor and the manufacturer.

      OTOH, I can see Watson being immensely useful on the back end.

      Well, he did always want to be a proctologist when he grew up.

    • by AndOne (815855)
      I believe your example of the Lyme disease is erroneous. Watson would be primed with that sort of information as it can be fed a list of common causes and common environmental issues quite easily. Watson could then say, "you're symptoms sound like Lyme disease, but that is not common here. Have you traveled to these areas recently?" Pretty much the same as a doctor or nurse at a clinic.

      Watson will also be able to do things like search the entire patient history and perhaps identify lingering things t
    • Personally, I seriously doubt that Watson will ever advance to being able to replace a doctor for non-trivial complaints. First of all, humans are better at image processing, so if a patient looks like death then they aren't going to ask questions to rule out minor complaints.

      The dirty truth of medicine though is that 99% of problems are trivial complaints. I've only ever needed a doctor to save my life once. The other 90 times was for trivial things. Oh and once I went in for a dislocated shoulder and he assured me it wasn't dislocated. So I limped along for a week and finally went to a physical therapist who immediately determined I had a dislocated shoulder and torn ligaments.

      What Watson can offer is the leveraging of less "Doctors" and more nurses. Nurses are perfec

    • OTOH, I can see Watson being immensely useful on the back end. For example, which second-line blood pressure medications have been show to be highly effective with few side effects in 65 year old male caucasians who also have diabetes, and, of those, which has the best interaction profile with the other drugs this patient is taking? Clinical guidelines help, but they're obviously simplified and generalized. It'd take a human ages to research the literature to figure that out, but an AI like Watson could potentially do it in a few seconds. Such a tool could take a lot of the guesswork out of medicine.

      Give Watson an electronic nose, in-fared vision, and the ability to analyse blood and DNA - then it *might* be able to out diagnose the best doctors.

  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @11:27PM (#36370998) Homepage

    Just do as Geordi La Forged does. When he has a problem, he sits down and speaks into the air starting with the following statement "Computer...".

    So, this is how much of our research will be conducted at office around the world. Get ready for the revolution. This will be much easier than "googling" you're way out of a problem. Much MUCH easier.

    Production: Computer... have X-materials with Y-funding and an Z-deadline. What is the most profitable solution.

    Investor: Computer...I have money in the bank and need to do some low frequency trading. Please review the past history and make me money.

    Mechanic: Computer....These are my symptoms for this make/model a vehicle. This is the work previously done on it."

    Inventor: Computer...design me the best fractal antenna you can.

    Developer: Computer...design a better version of yourself, put it into production, and repeat. Queue theme music to the Terminator

  • ... detailed files on human anatomy.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103064/ [imdb.com]
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103064/quotes [imdb.com]
  • I had a program that did a far better job of diagnosing patients than doctors could. But Doctors were not interested in actually doing a better doctoring job. They were strictly interested in making more money. Do you think they do plastic surgery because it cures people? Do you think they are treating ulcers with tagamet instead of antibiotics because the antibiotics would cure you fast? Do you think they would be avoiding using checklists in surgeries because checklists cut surgical complications by a fac

    • by maztuhblastah (745586) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @12:28AM (#36371336) Journal

      Do you think they do plastic surgery because it cures people? Do you think they are treating ulcers with tagamet instead of antibiotics because the antibiotics would cure you fast?

      I was starting to listen to what you were saying until I read this.

      The current standard treatment for Helicobacter Pylori is a triple-therapy regime which does indeed include antibiotics. It is highly effective and usually results in eradication.

      Cimetidine hasn't been used as a treatment for ulcers in since the discovery of H. Pylori, many years ago. Considering that there are a number of modern antibiotics that are active against H. Pylori it is quite rare for a patient to not receive some antibiotic cocktail -- and even if there were a patient who (for some reason) could not receive *any* antibiotics, PPIs would almost certainly be used in place of cimetidine.

      I'm sorry you have such a vendetta against physicians. Perhaps your views will change with age. I know that mine certainly did as I entered adulthood.

  • by Shauni (1164077) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @11:43PM (#36371126)
    Just bring us into the 21st century, for the love of FSM! Modern healthcare is not a doctor proscribing a treatment anymore... it's a network of specialists making recommendations and sharing data with each other. However, this "sharing" more often than not goes at pre-Internet speeds. Delays of days or even weeks are common as multiple opinions are sought, insurance companies are contacted, enormous paper portfolio are passed around, one for each facility... it's a real mess. It's not "doctoring" that keeps them busy; it's bureaucracy. It's reading test results off of carbon paper forms and waiting to see if their patient can even afford the "gold standard" treatment they want to give them (even if they're insured!)

    Watson can't deal with any of that, really. And that ignores the danger bureaucratic errors can pose to an AI, such as test results that are inexplicably attributed to the wrong patient... what happens when Watson makes a crap diagnosis because of bad data? Can he eliminate bad data or even "show his work?"
  • When "computers go wild," for a brief moment in time, humans will say "Woa... we made movies about this happening. Why were we so blind?"
    BrNah, i'm completely kidding. "Insert Carl Sagan famous quote here."
  • It was to help solve this exact problem that we started MEDgle - http://www.medgle.com/ [medgle.com] . We've just finished our app clinicians and starting beta testing with hospitals and urgent cares. Our focus is to enable scalable clinical operations powered by 100+ million relationships and algorithms. Also our entire health analytics cloud is available via our APIs - http://www.medgle.com/corp/developers/ [medgle.com] . Just contact just for API access. Feedback and suggestions are very welcome. :) Cheers Ash
    • Feedback:

      Don't have your site crash with a NullPointerException when somebody with a blank user agent visits it.

      Remember, someString.equals() only works if someString != null

  • A lot of comments her make me think of Shrunken Head Ned, the world's only Shrunken Head Village Doctor that plies his trade in the Adventureland in Disneyland. (At least, he used to. I haven't been there for a few years.) That's the way a good many of these comments seem to lean, that Watson as a medical AI is just a sort of amusement that can't be trusted.

    I wouldn't trust Watson as a sole source of medical advice either but in combination with the right doctor who knows how to examine and work with peo

  • Will it be a hospital failure? Wil it be IBM the responsible? Maybe the one who earned money with it...
  • Last time I checked IBM shares were a good investment, and opening a medical practice was an expensive proposition.

    I suspect access to Watson will be something that IBM profits from (which is good), and that it won't reduce the costs of running a medical practice.

    Don't be surprised if pharmaceutical companies "sponsor" Watson for medical practitioners.

    Would you like a bowel resection with that haemorroid removal and fissure stitch? May I recommend the fat reducing asthma medication trials? Perhaps sir would like to try our discount-medication-for-pharmaceutical-research-program??

    Wait for the "but sir requested the penile reduction, crackle, hiss, my programmer desires you wife, crackle...

    How about - "I'm sorry sir, but I must halt your heart surgery due to an injunction granted in East Texas by SCO-rebooted"

    But wait, there's more! Nintendo's recently announced homeopathic robot, Poirot, faces a patent challenge from Microsoft's mobile acupuncture and moxybustion robots- Pricks and Burns!

    :-D

"The only way for a reporter to look at a politician is down." -- H.L. Mencken

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