Introducing Doctor Watson

introducing doctor watsonHaving proven itself to be better at television quiz shows than the most impressive human specimen available, IBM’s supercomputer (and Jeopardy champion) Watson is moving onto new challenges, like trying to make humans better. Not in the scary genetically-engineered-for-our-new-robot-overlords way – at least, not that we know of – but in the literal, “You’re sick and I want to heal you” manner. Yes, that’s right: Watson is becoming a doctor. Arthur Conan Doyle would be so proud.

To be fair, Watson isn’t being used to actually come up with treatment for patients just yet. Instead, as New Scientist reports, he’s being used to help diagnose them in the first place. Watson’s new purpose is to use the same system that helped it recognize questions from Alex Trebek and find the appropriate answers to listen to patients describe their symptoms and cross-reference it with a database of known medical conditions.

Early tests have demonstrated that he’s nowhere near ready to be rolled out with any sense of expectation as to his performance; participating to Doctor’s Dilemma, the American College of Physicians’ annual competition for trainee doctors that quizzes them on their ability to correctly identify ailments, Watson only scored a 50 percent hit rate, and so has been sent back to study. “Given data on a new patients,” New Scientist’s Jim Giles explained, “Watson looks for information on those with similar symptoms, as well as the treatments that have been the most successful. The idea is it will give doctors a range of possible diagnoses and treatment options, each with an associated level of confidence.” Essentially, Watson will be a tool to help Doctors reach the right conclusions earlier than they may have otherwise arrived at them.

Everyone involved with the Watson trials seems confident of its ultimate success down the line. “Watson really has great potential,” Doctor William Audeh of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles reported. “Cancer need it most because it’s becoming so complicated so quickly.” Larry Norton, a doctor at New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center agrees. “It’s a machine that can read everything and forget nothing,” he said when talking about the benefits of incorporating the super computer with current diagnostic services.

Of course, this is nowhere near the first time that computers have been used to help doctors diagnose patients; when you consider the massive amounts of medical technology available today for both diagnosis and treatment, Watson’s insertion into the sequence seems more like an evolution than any grand statement about what robots can bring to the field. But what it will bring that seems most welcome to those involved in the trails is the increase in speed. “Now it can take up to a couple of days [to cross-reference symptoms with possible diagnoses],” explains Cindy Wakefield of US insurance company WellPoint. “We hope Watson can return the accurate recommendation in a matter of minutes.” Think of Watson as the real-life version of fictional television detective House MD – Just with a nicer personality.


4 women innovators who are using tech to help others live better lives

Meet four women leaders who are not only at the forefront of technology today, but also using tech — from robotics and medicine to food and undergarments — to help others.
Emerging Tech

Scientists have a way to turn off alcoholism: Blasting the brain with lasers

Researchers from Scripps Research have demonstrated that it is possible to reverse the desire to drink in alcohol-dependent rats by targeting a part of the brain using lasers. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

Tombot is the hyper-realistic dog robot that puts Spot to shame

Forget Boston Dynamics’ Spot! When it comes to robot dogs, the folks behind a new Kickstarter campaign have plans to stake their claim as makers of man’s (and woman’s) newest best friend.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

Still miss Windows 7? Here's how to make Windows 10 look more like it

There's no simple way of switching on a Windows 7 mode in Windows 10. Instead, you can install third-party software, manually tweak settings, and edit the registry. We provide instructions for using these tweaks and tools.

Go hands-free in Windows 10 with speech-to-text support

Looking for the dictation, speech-to-text, and voice control options in Windows 10? Here's how to set up Speech Recognition in Windows 10 and use it to go hands-free in a variety of different tasks and applications within Windows.

Looking for a Chromebook? The Google PixelBook just got a $200 price cut

Once relatively obscure, Chromebooks have come into their own in a big way in recent years. One of our favorites is the super-sleek Google Pixelbook, and it's on sale right now from Amazon for $200 off, letting you score this premium laptop…

Get the most out of your high-resolution display by tweaking its DPI scaling

Windows 10 has gotten much better than earlier versions at supporting today's high-resolution displays. If you want to get the best out of your monitor, then check out our guide on how to adjust high-DPI scaling in Windows 10.

Got gadgets galore? Keep them charged up with the 10 best USB-C cables

We're glad to see that USB-C is quickly becoming the norm. That's why we've rounded up some of the better USB-C cables on the market, whether you're looking to charge or sync your smartphone. We've got USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to USB-A.

Nvidia’s GTX 1650 graphics card could be just a slight upgrade over the 1050 Ti

Rumors suggest Nvidia might soon launch the GTX 1650, and a leaked benchmark listing from Final Fantasy XV suggests that the new graphics card could be just a slight upgrade over last generation's GTX 1050 Ti. 

Get ready to say goodbye to some IFTTT support in Gmail by March 31

If This Then That, the popular automation service, will drop some of its support for Gmail by March 31. The decision comes as a response to security concerns and is aimed to protect user data.

Get the new Dell XPS 13 for $750 with this limited-time deal

Dell is currently running a limited time deal lasting through Thursday, March 28, where you can bring home a version of this year's new XPS 13 for around $750 with the use of a special coupon code. 

This is the easiest way to save your iPhone data to your computer

Living in fear of losing your contacts, photos, messages, and notes on your iPhone? Fear no more -- in this guide, we'll break down exactly how to back up your iPhone to your computer using Apple's iTunes or to the cloud with iCloud.

Here are the best iPad Pro keyboard cases to pick up with your new tablet

The iPad Pro range can double as laptops, but they do need proper keyboards to fill in effectively. Thankfully, there are loads to choose from and we rounded up the best iPad Pro keyboard cases right here.