Give Now

A Moment of Science

“Watson” Goes To Medical School

Watson, the IBM super computer that beat the best human Jeopardy players at their own game, could help detect medical errors.

Doctors tend to be very smart, driven people. But medical knowledge and technology change so quickly that doctors are easily overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stuff they’re supposed to know. Which is why medical errors have become such a concern.

Watson On Jeopardy

That’s where Watson, the IBM super computer that beat the best human Jeopardy players at their own game, could help. Here’s how it would work. As we speak, Watson is being fed millions of medical texts books and journal articles. It’s even downloading medical blogs and medical records. Soon, Watson’s memory banks will be crammed full of countless gigabytes of medical knowledge more than any one doctor could ever keep straight.

All About Medicine

All that concentrated knowledge could be used to improve diagnosis and treatment. Say a doctor is treating a patient whose symptoms don’t immediately make sense. On her iPad or some other device, the doc wirelessly informs Watson. Watson then checks the symptoms against the patient’s medical history and instantly sifts through troves of previous cases and studies to come up with a logical diagnosis and possible treatments. To be clear, Watson’s handlers are not saying or hoping that the super computer will replace doctors. Watson is basically a massive number cruncher. It can’t develop a relationship with patients and consider their desires and fears.

But Watson could help doctors more easily make use of the mountains of facts that inform every medical decision, instead of being crushed under their weight.

Read More:

  • “Watson” Goes From ‘Jeopardy!’ To Medical School (InventorSpot)

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from A Moment of Science:

Support for Indiana Public Media Comes From

About A Moment of Science

Search A Moment of Science