After wowing viewers and technophiles alike during that masterful Jeopardy appearance, IBM’s Watson and its incredible language-comprehension abilities will be targeted towards the assisting the medical industry.
Now that IBM is finished showing off Watson’s ability to the world, and perhaps scaring some of us who grew up watching the Terminator movies, Watson’s celebrity will not be used in vain. Clearly, making a Kardashian-esqe computer — that is, famous for being famous, but overall usefulness is negligble — was not IBM’s goal as plans for Watson’s capabilities have been made public.
Instead of keeping Watson on the game-show circuit, IBM’s new superstar will be joining forces with Nuance Healthcare’s speech-recognition solution in order to make the life of physicians an easier undertaking. Combining these language-comprehension technologies will assist the diagnosis process, if, for nothing else, by making research process faster.
Watson’s considerable reaction-time will clearly come into play here. TechNewsWorld has more:
"Watson has the potential to help doctors reduce the time needed to evaluate and determine the correct diagnosis for a patient," noted Herbert Chase, M.D., professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
For those of you who are concerned Watson might “replace” the human element of the medical industry, or if Watson makes a mistake, something it did during the Jeopardy run, these fears appear to be unfounded, at least for now. TNW makes the point that ego possessed by doctors will make overruling Watson’s recommendations an easy thing.
One does wonder, however, if a dependence on Watson’s vast computational power will form. Considering the potential workload being reduced, giving in to the seduction would be tempting.
Of course, another issue of concern is propagation of the Watson technology. How many hospitals/doctors will have access to it? Will the computing power needed to make Watson work, a large mainframe, hinder its introduction even before it begins?
Not so fast says the Nuance VP:
Just don’t ask Watson anything about airports that sprung up in the World War II era.