Monday, January 17, 2011

IBM's Watson and Robot Doctors

Image representing IBM as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase
Building a Robot Doctor
The idea is not so far-fetched. Technology is emerging that could handle some medical diagnosis through a laptop or smart phone. And there's no question that a robot computer could be loaded chock full of information. IBM's massive Watson computing system, for example, has been loaded with millions of pages of information from everything from classic novels to Wikipedia to books of historical sports statistics.
But being a doctor requires more than just knowledge. At the heart of Watson is software called DeepQA, which allows the computer to understand Jeopardy's often-tricky questions, and in a split second find the most likely answer out of millions of possible answers in all that stored data. The software will be tested in public sometime in 2011, when IBM's Watson is expected to play on Jeopardy. As it is, the massive computing system has been playing practice rounds in a mock studio against former Jeopardy winners, and Watson has been winning more than half the time.
IBM believes DeepQA will have plenty of applications beyond talk shows – including health care. Imagine if the same kind of system was loaded with every medical reference book and scientific study and information about prescription drugs, along with the latest news about flu outbreaks, weather or other factors that might impact health. A patient could then access a DeepQA doctor over the Web, ask questions and get informed and knowledgeable answers.
There's already a crude version of this on the Web – a site calledDoctor Robot, created by Russian physician Aleksandr Kavokin. It asks patients to fill out a questionnaire, and attempts to match answers with a possible diagnosis.

See full article from DailyFinance:
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