IBM’s Watson to be used for Cancer Research

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IBM’s super computer ‘Watson’, which has been developed to be fluent in all languages, is to be used as a tool for medical diagnosis in America.

Watson is famed for beating the best human competition on the US television show ‘Jeopardy!’, and IBM claims it has the ability to absorb and analyze vast quantities of data, better than that of human doctors, and its deployment could also reduce healthcare costs.

IBM has a business agreement with the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and American private healthcare company Wellpoint.

This partnership means Watson will be available for rent to any hospital or clinic for oncology matters. Watson will also suggest the most affordable way of paying for the healthcare.

For the last year, IBM, Sloan-Kettering and Wellpoint has been working to teach Watson the understanding and accumulation of detailed medical knowledge relating to oncology, which is lung, prostate and breast cancers initially, with further information to be learned in the next few years.

Watson has already stored more than 600,000 pieces of medical evidence, over two million pages from medical journals and possesses the ability to search through up to 1.5 million patient records for further information.

Sloan-Kettering’s Dr Larry Norton said: “What Watson is going to enable us to do is take that wisdom and put it in a way that people who don’t have that much experience in any individual disease can have a wise counsellor at their side at all times and use the intelligence and wisdom of the most experienced people to help guide decisions.”

A statement from Wellpoint said: “Natural language processing leverages unstructured data, such as text-based treatment requests.

“80 percent of the world’s total data is unstructured, and using traditional computing to handle it would consume a great deal of time and resources in the utilisation management process.

“The project also takes an early step into cognitive systems by enabling Watson to co-evolve with treatment guidelines, policies and medical best practices. The system has the ability to improve iteratively as payers and providers use it.”