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IBM AI Medicine

Watson Goes To Medical School 100

First time accepted submitter Kwyj1b0 writes "I.B.M's Watson is headed to the Cleavland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University for training. Clinicians and students will answer and correct Watson's questions, in an attempt to crowdsource its education. From the article: '“Hopefully, we can contribute to the training of this technology,” said Dr. James K. Stoller, chairman of the Education Institute at Cleveland Clinic. The goal, he added, was for Watson to become a “very smart assistant.” Part of Watson’s training will be to feed it test questions from the United States Medical Licensing Exam, which every human student must pass to become a practicing physician. The benefit for Watson should be to have a difficult but measurable set of questions on which to measure the progress of its machine-learning technology.'"
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Watson Goes To Medical School

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  • I recently worked at IBM and this is one of the things they really love to showcase - I think primarily because it's really cool, but also has really useful end results - exactly the kind of thing you want to be working on.
  • by p0p0 ( 1841106 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @07:41PM (#41836733)
    Design another Watson designed as a database for crimes which could analyse crime scenes, point out potential minute details and give data on similar crimes. Then call it... Holmes.
    I'd like that.
    • Just as a note, you wouldn't need another Watson, just run it again, and train it on different data. It could (in theory) apply it's 'learning' skills to anything.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Even better, set up multiple Watsons, have them work over the same sets of data to learn from, and then ask them all the same set of questions, and see how each system answers those questions...

      • by p0p0 ( 1841106 )
        Then you couldn't put them in the same room and crudely re-enact scenes from Sherlock Holmes.
        And a little USB drive shaped like a pipe.
        Yeah. That would be awesome.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      ...and call it Professor Moriarty

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Nurse: Doctor patient Parkison, has numbness in the groin area.
      Web MD : Did the numbness come on suddenly?
      Nurse: No.
      Web MD: Does it affect both sides?
      Nurse: Yes.
      Web MD: Thoracic Spinal Stenosis

      Watson: Parkinson's disease. (Patent Pending)

      Really they've put the text through a crude parser and stuck it into a database similar to Web MD and now they'll patent the hell out of this. But they're using stock language parsing algorithms and stock medical look databases, and the only purpose for this is to generate

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      After a while, make it more advanced and let it predict crimes [wikipedia.org], so we can prevent them. Have three and call them Mike, Donna and Jerry (Please not Agatha, Dashiell or Arthur.)

  • Reminds me of a short story from the Stories of Ibis collection. A salesman impressed a group of colleagues in a nursing home that a new robot had passed the nursing exam.
  • just wait for it to make a error like that in a Medical setting.

  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @07:59PM (#41836853)

    Particularly since the way it work is by probabilities. So a physician goes and inputs all the symptoms a patient reports, perhaps along with a confidence of how likely it is to be real. Watson could then spit out the likely causes, and the probability of each, as well as how to narrow it down. Then with additional tests, they can exclude things and get a re-factored list.

    It won't remove the need for a medical professional with good judgement, but it could be a boon for searching through things and presenting possibilities. What's more each new case can be logged, improving its database.

    So when someone presents with a rare disease, it would be much easier for a physician to diagnose it, even if they've never heard of it.

    If implemented right, it could cut down on misdiagnosis a ton.

    • Watson is actually already cooler than that, you just give it the patient records, and results from the exam you just did, for example (all in natural language, no special inputting with confidence or anything like that), and Watson will take everything into account (from symptoms, environmental stuff, existing medication, patient history, family history, etc...) and give causes, treatments, etc... - it's really awesome.
      • by Empiric ( 675968 )

        *citation needed

        Whenever I hear anthropomorphizing phrases like "will take everything into account", my overstated-AI BS alarm goes off.

        Can you elaborate on by what means or personal experience you assert that Watson does more than statistical analysis of the language it is "given", as essentially-arbitrary symbols, and, say, give some means (or even a data structure) by which it "knows" even what a "patient" is, such that it could draw inferences about such an entity in the absence of an existing chain of

    • More than diagnosing the disease based on the symptoms, if you had a networked system available in every hospital or to every doctor, I'd like to see what kind of information you'd get out of following up with post-treatment symptoms, autopsies when things went wrong, detecting patterns that wouldn't be evident on a per-doctor or per-hospital scale.
      Of course I'd imagine you'd need to hash the input case numbers or something to keep the privacy of the individuals while being able to add information later.

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      Well, to be diagnosed with a rare disease, you have to be diagnosed first to have that rare disease and not a common one.
      Doctors will not start looking for a rare disease if they think you have a common one. They might start looking once they realize you don't have a rare disease.

      Even having a common one confused with something else happens more then once.

      I have gout and it took a long time before they realized it was gout. When it flares up, I have it in my ankle and it was thought the first few times that

    • Does anybody know anything about how it is programmed? Does it use LISP?
  • The American Medical Schools select for automatons who can memorize and regurgitate vast amounts of data. Talk to any physician who graduated from med school in the past 20 years about what they took as undergrads and they'll most likely tell you they don't remember the courses specifically because they memorized them to pass (and then promptly forgot them).

    The real question is whether or not this is the best way to train our future health care professionals. While indeed there are some really good physicians coming out of our med schools - and even some of those who memorized their way through undergrad will be great physicians - we have also excluded from selection many who would have been excellent caregivers based on their inability to memorize quite as quickly as their classmates.
    • lots of colleges put to much on cramming for tests and not much on being able to do stuff in a real setting. Closed book / closed notes / no Google tests only test memorizing.

      What professionals one who is real good at test cramming or on who knows most of the day to day stuff and how to lookup the other stuff that they need at the time they need it. is better?

      • In my engineering classes they are pretty much allowing us to use books, notes, homework, previous exams, and pretty advanced calculators like the nspire but the also give FAR more realistic problems.

        The exams tend to be very difficult and sometimes have unrealistic time constraints (ie nobody in a class of 100 people or so finish the exam).
        Pretty much the only thing we can't use is a laptop/cellphone etc or anything with an internet connection.

        It would certainly be nice if I could use matlab, python or exc

    • Yes, exactly. The learning of today seems to be more about memorizing than about actually understanding. I remember that during my university years, I met a woman who did pass the most difficult exam by memorizing answers from examples and previous sample questions from previous exams. The funny thing was that she had no time for studying and did the preparation in one week, but passed with the highest score of the semester and is now an HR manager at a major German company. She claimed that she did not und
    • The American medical school system accepts all sorts of students, so long as they have high GPA's and MCAT scores. When you get to medical school, though, you realize why all the traditional premed students have been cramming from day one. In med school, the dumbest guy in the class is pretty sharp. Tests tend to focus on the most arcane material imaginable, and so you have to memorize trivia. Experience helps. Of course, trivia is what medicine is really all about - the common things are common, and so eas
    • Fourth year medical student here.

      The comments above are quite true and in no way exaggerated. Being a good physician after passing the USMLE or COMLEX is mostly coincidence. Then again ... I'm an idiot ....

  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @08:25PM (#41837095) Homepage Journal

    No humans involved. Only computers and the occasional tech support call to Bangalore.

  • When I saw the twitter feed headline, I was hoping Lucy Liu was going to attend UW Medical School.


    Dr. Watson, you're needed here!

  • "I.B.M's Watson is headed to the Cleavland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University...

    And if /. can't afford its own watson, how about a spell checker??? They are much cheaper and much, much less likely to make mistakes.
  • "I.B.M's Watson is headed to the Cleavland Clinic" Really? It's the _Cleveland_ Clinic. Seriously "samzenpus". That's pretty bad. Even worse for the fact that in the next sentence it's spelled correctly. A bit too much Halloween bubbly perhaps?
  • Virtual Doc: You've got: leprosy.

  • What I would love to see is Watson's training interface on the Internet, as a service, with anyone able to pick a domain and contribute expert knowledge, whether in the form of questions Watson should ask, answers to those questions, or even just links to sources of relevant information. Through a crowd-sourced approach Watson's capacities could be so much more quickly developed. By keeping each user or group in sandboxes and maintaining knowledge in each domain more or less separately, there would be no pr

  • "Cleavland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University" Anyone else a CCLCMCWRU fan? :)
  • Soon we will have affordable, quality healthcare for all.

    Next goal world peace!

  • Thought this was going to be about Emma Watson! /disappointed

  • He might discover the complexities of designing a health department pay system, since IBM screwed up the Queensland system so badly.

  • Stone/earth is what computers are made of and they run images of human/beast thought processes...... So what is coming is ......

    There is more to life than just abstraction, which is what language is. There is more to reality than what our abstraction identify...

    Some things worth considering.

  • Is a computer psychiatrist .... let's call him Marvin!

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault