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Just Months After Jeopardy!, Watson Wows Doctors

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the do-no-harm-while-killing-all-humans dept.

AI 291

kkleiner writes "Following its resounding victory on Jeopardy!, IBM's Watson has been working hard to learn as much about medicine as it can with a steady diet of medical textbooks and healthcare journals. In a recent demonstration to the Associated Press, Watson showed a promising ability to diagnose patients. The demonstration was a success, and it is the hope of IBM and many medical professionals that in the coming years Watson will lend doctors a helping hand as they perform their daily rounds."

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291 comments

Brought to you by Bayer. (0, Troll)

Dr.Bob,DC (2076168) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370594)


So Watson, having ingested all the knowledge of "The System" will now do its bidding. Instead of an MD saying "You need pain medication and anti-inflamatories", it will be Watson suggesting it.

Will Watson suggest "Check for a vertebral subluxation at C5/6?" Nope, and therein lies the sinister problem. Watson has all sorts of MD-type knowledge in it, but I'll wager it hasn't scanned in one single issue of The Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research or other alt-med journal. It's being stuffed with "science" and not those things just beyond and not yet explained.

Will Watson have scanned in all those excellent Chiropractic YouTube videos? Some of those have dozens of thumbs-up from other Chiropractors. No, even though all those thumbs-up mean something: that is peer review!

Take care,
Bob

Re:Brought to you by Bayer. (1)

Pseudonym Authority (1591027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370704)

I bet it didn't study aromatherapy or herbal remedies either! What a useless machine!

BTW, Eliza could replace 99% of psychoanalytic therapy decades ago.

Pseudonym Authority: Time for your medication now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36370820)

Are you mentally stable? The reason I ask him this, is simple (see these 2 posts of Pseudonym Authorities' folks, and then decide for yourselves):

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2198230&cid=36370168 [slashdot.org]

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2206226&cid=36370194 [slashdot.org]

WTF! Are you sick in the head, or what??

We know you suck at computing already, based on your screwup on a simple principle in it here:

http://tech.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1881444&cid=34343366 [slashdot.org]

But we had NO idea you needed mental help too! Time for your medication now I think, troll.

Re:Pseudonym Authority: Time for your medication n (1)

Pseudonym Authority (1591027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370954)

Pseudonym Authority: Time for your medication now

But did Watson prescribe that?

Re:Pseudonym Authority: Time for your medication n (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36371060)

Wow, the fight of the year:

The Gay-Sex-In-The-Army-Guy versus Hosts-File-Nutjob!

I'll grab the popcorn.

Watson prescribes you cyanide freak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36371090)

See subject. I read those posts of yours, and you are touched in the skull.

Re:Brought to you by Bayer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36370736)

Hundreds of astrologers also agree with each other results: that is peer review.

You fucking nuts.

Re:Brought to you by Bayer. (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 3 years ago | (#36371066)

You mean a giant computer is going to rely on science instead of back whacking and cracking? Gasp!

Also there is a disturbing idea of a giant unfeeling computer telling me to do science. Thank god she's not voiced by Ellen McLane.

Interesting but... (1)

x1n933k (966581) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370602)

"...in the coming years Watson will lend doctors a helping hand as they perform their daily rounds."

So basically, between the nurses and the computer, the doctors will now just have to smile and nod?

I am kidding of course, the more tools that medical professionals have the better.

[J]

Re:Interesting but... (2)

oddaddresstrap (702574) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370986)

Kidding about what? When this kind of technology becomes affordable, and it will, you might need someone (ie, a nurse) to describe the visible symptoms and translate the patient's complaints to the Digital Doctor (tm). If need be, the DD will review digitized x-rays, cat scans or mri's and then come up with a diagnosis and treatment that is probably at least as good as a doctor and will be less expensive.

Sometimes I think I'd actually like something like this if it can do a better job than a human. At the local clinic, the doctors and nurses seem utterly clueless unless there's a broken bone sticking out or something obvious like that.

Better job than humans (3, Interesting)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 3 years ago | (#36371112)

It will absolutely do a better job than a bad human. This should make a major difference in the long tail--i.e. things that aren't the obvious problem to the doctor, notably in second and third-rate hospitals. It will make procedural screw-ups a bigger cause of death and hospital problems as compared to medical malpractice. (I'm not sure what the ratio is now.)

It will also make humans more dumb and less thoughtful over time. That is, diagnostic skills will go down as diagnosis becomes done more and more by computer. The excellent doctors will still be excellent, but there will be even *less* requirement to really *think* about a problem than there is now.

Re:Better job than humans (2)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 3 years ago | (#36371230)

> It will also make humans more dumb and less thoughtful over time. That is, diagnostic skills will go down as diagnosis becomes done more and more by computer. The excellent doctors will still be excellent, but there will be even *less* requirement to really *think* about a problem than there is now.

And THAT is when us programmers will finally be the last thinking humans on Earth! Mwah-hah-hah! You pretty little Eloi go on having your pick-nicks in the sun while we... um... toil in our basements to make better digital doctors...

But... we like pick-nicks too...
 

Re:Interesting but... (1)

trparky (846769) | more than 3 years ago | (#36371208)

I guess that Doctor House is now out of a job. LOL

Re:Interesting but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36371378)

But does Dr. Watson know it's not Lupus?

Re:Interesting but... (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370996)

Well kidding aside its a very logical step. Expert systems have been around since the 80's, though those usually required a data line and subscription along with careful and tedious professional coding, that spawned a career path for many.

Watson as its called is an experiment to refine the system that has not changed *much* since hypercard and HTML, using the next generation of balls out IBM power in "AI" experts systems... it could make a dent in the way mass data is managed.

Re:Interesting but... (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 3 years ago | (#36371170)

"...in the coming years Watson will lend doctors a helping hand as they perform their daily rounds." So basically, between the nurses and the computer, the doctors will now just have to smile and nod? I am kidding of course, the more tools that medical professionals have the better. [J]

The more tools the better? Tell that the the auto assembly line worker who just got replaced by...a robot.

This is one way to make costs go down and health insurance affordable again, considering that a good portion of that bloated cost we pay for medicine and healthcare in general today is to cover malpractice and insurance related to it. Seems malpractice will likely be down considerably when you no longer have those pesky humans that make mistakes getting in the way.

Of course, since insurance companies are some of the greediest organizations on the entire planet, chances are this computer-controlled utopia will never be "allowed" to exist, and will be shelved, and things will remain status quo.

Re:Interesting but... (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | more than 3 years ago | (#36371294)

Wait what, you're worried about the a shortage or make-work jobs for skilled doctors? Are you kidding me?

Re:Interesting but... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#36371298)

Why would insurance companies be opposed to medical expert systems?

A computerized billing and coding system could analyze patient records, second-guess doctors, and reject claims faster than thousands of weak human employees...

Re:Interesting but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36371310)

And do you think the programmers won't be targeted, if there's no doctor to sue?
 
I think that a human doctor will still be required to take responsibility for the patient's outcome.

Re:Interesting but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36371326)

The more tools the better? Tell that the the auto assembly line worker who just got replaced by...a robot.

Of course telling people is not especially easy or fun, but yeah. The assembly line worker wouldn't have had the job making cars in the first place if his great-great-grandfather hadn't got replaced by...a spinning mule or power loom.

The people who rail against the automation that obsoleted their job are seldom if ever ready to denounce all the comforts they owe to earlier stages of the industrial revolution. No, it's ok if it hurts other's, that's for the greater good. But since they were unlucky enough to get hit with this particular round --- down with the bloody machines!

Medicine more than matching symptoms to pills (0)

nido (102070) | more than 3 years ago | (#36371248)

Even conventional doctors use touch for diagnosis. How is "Dr. Watson" supposed to compete? There's more to the practice of medicine than matching symptoms with pills.

Years ago I experienced a tremendous amount of pain when I was using the keyboard... Started when I was a freshman in college. I'm sure Slashdot was to blame, somehow... But anyways, it started with shooting pains up and down my right arm, so I switched to using my Thinkpad's trackpoint with my left index finger. Before long I had shooting pain up & down my right forearm too. But it wasn't so bad, so I just switched between index fingers on the trackpad, and added an external mouse...

I was more or less okay until I started my final CS2 project the night before it was due (deadline was at 8am, iirc). Spent all night working on it, had to start over at 1am because my first solution was hopelessly broken. Before long I had shooting pains across my shoulders and down my spine too.. Neck cracked constantly, and I was quite miserable.

The next semester I went t the campus health center... Doctor said I didn't have carpal tunnel syndrome, and that there was nothing wrong with me that a little exercise wouldn't fix, and prescribed me some double-strength ibuprofen.

The pills didn't touch the pain, and neither did exercise help. Went to another doctor, and got brushed off with the same useless platitude about exercise. I could have gained a dozen pounds, for sure, but my problem was not related to lack of exercise.

Drifted around for a few years... Went to seven chiropractors, who all agreed that I had a problem, but their treatments were not helpful. Eventually I went to a book signing by Dr. Zieve [healthymedicine.net] , and mentioned that I was looking for a member of the other profession that had a strong history for manual medicine. He asked "why", so I said something about the pain I experienced when using a keyboard. He said that my intended course of action might be appropriate, that there was only one such doctor locally, and whenever he needed that kind of care he went to see someone 100 miles away.

Eventually went to see this other doctor, and his skills were incredible. Told him why I was there, he asked if I'd ever broken a bone and I said 'no'. The first thing he found was that my left hip was an inch or an inch and a half higher than my right. None of the 7 doctors or 7 chiropractors had noticed that. One chiropractor said that one of my legs was longer than the other, but the last doctor I visited said he'd only had 2 or 3 patients over his 30 years of practice that actually had a leg-length disparity - all the rest had imbalanced hips, and when the muscle that was torquing the hips was calmed down, the hips leveled out and the leg-length disparity disappeared.

Then he had me lie down on is table. "You have a rib or two that's broken back here." What? I'd never broken a rib, as far as I knew...

"Like, an old break that's all healed up now?" The good doctor confirmed that this was the case.

The treatment continued as the doctor investigated why my hips and shoulders were torqued. Eventually he found the muscle (or 'twist' in the connective tissue) that was most responsible, applied just the right amount of pressure in just the right location, and felt a release.

There are 650 to 850 muscles in the human body. A doctor who specializes in hands-on treatments knows this anatomy by touch, and can feel (through the skin) when something is not like it should be. This is something like how you can tell if the road your car is driving on is iced over by the feedback you get through the steering wheel.

Luke Wilson warned us (1)

PowerCyclist (2058868) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370624)

This is just another step towards the realization of the movie "Idiocracy".

Re:Luke Wilson warned us (1)

CTU (1844100) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370678)

and here I was hopping it was one step closer to a EMH

I for one... (1)

Eggplant62 (120514) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370630)

...welcome our robomedical overlords! Now, Mr. Watson, I've a raging case of hemorrhoids and a fissure that would drive even the sternest of men mad with rage. Help.

Re:I for one... (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370840)

Watson: I'll refer you to one of my idiotic human assistants to remove them, this is totally under my stature.

Re:I for one... (2)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370870)

...welcome our robomedical overlords! Now, Mr. Watson, I've a raging case of hemorrhoids and a fissure that would drive even the sternest of men mad with rage. Help.

<Watson> Please approach and step up and walk into the mechanization booth on your right; don't worry, you won't feel a thing. The replacement of your biological components with mechanical ones is really quite painless.
Please don't resist. If you fight, I am afraid, the orderly will have to carry you, and you may need to go through additional time consuming reprogramming after your brain is mechanized.

Re:I for one... (1)

Inner_Child (946194) | more than 3 years ago | (#36371296)

<Watson> Please approach and step up and walk into the mechanization booth on your right; don't worry, you won't feel a thing.
The replacement of your biological components with mechanical ones is really quite painless.

Please don't resist. If you fight, I am afraid, the orderly will have to carry you, and you may need to go through additional time consuming reprogramming after your brain is mechanized.

And so, the Cybermen were born.

Google the answer (1)

mailman-zero (730254) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370632)

I always got the feeling my doctor was just googling my symptoms to come up with a diagnosis. Now I guess they won't be hiding it. I just hope that it doesn't make any silly mistakes like prescribing hysterectomies for men.

Re:Google the answer (2)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370654)

I'm sure that if Watson suggested a hysterectomy for a male, it would be because it was totally stumped and would give a very low confidence value. That's the reason we would still have doctors even if the computer worked great most of the time--hopefully the doctors can catch the computer's mistakes as much as the computer can catch the doctors' mistakes.

Re:Google the answer (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370686)

A power tool does not a builder make.

Re:Google the answer (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370876)

A power tool may indeed make a builder - I have had some work done recently which implies this is true.

A power tool does not a master builder make.

FTFY.

Re:Google the answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36370676)

this is why I don't like the idea. Unless the computer can see and KNOW what's going one I don't want one diagnosing me unless it is only to reinforce the doctor's diagnosis (like spell check).

Re:Google the answer (2)

arb phd slp (1144717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370868)

"Like spell check."

That's a really good analogy for how it should be used.

Better he use Google than watch House M.D. (3, Insightful)

crovira (10242) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370788)

That dweeb will almost kill you twice or three times with misdiagnoses before he finds the right one.

Re:Better he use Google than watch House M.D. (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370910)

Better hope no one accidentally fed Watson some House scripts!

Re:Better he use Google than watch House M.D. (3, Funny)

Nirvelli (851945) | more than 3 years ago | (#36371176)

Only because you lied to him about something !

Re:Google the answer (1)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 3 years ago | (#36371256)

Medical Assistant XP Plus: It appears you are trying to make a list of symptoms, shall I turn that into a formatted, numbered list for you?

Reduce its size... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36370634)

and you have a talking medical tricorder.

You have..... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36370646)

.....Lupus

Re:You have..... (-1, Troll)

Dr.Bob,DC (2076168) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370672)

Lupus can be treated with aggressive chiropractic adjustments. You will find that Lupus sufferers are chronic hosts to nervous system issues. 2-7 visits for the first several weeks while the subluxations and Lupus symptoms subside.

Interestingly, it's similar to the treatment for Fibromyalgia and colic.

Re:You have..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36370866)

Go to hell, chiropractic troll.

And stuff the subluxation up in your ignorant ass.

Re:You have..... (1)

Doodlesmcpooh (1981178) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370776)

It's never Lupus.

Re:You have..... (1)

vuke69 (450194) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370808)

Except for when it is, then no one expects it.

Re:You have..... (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370830)

It is about once a season

Re:You have..... (1)

Doodlesmcpooh (1981178) | more than 3 years ago | (#36371018)

It was once in season 4 episode 8.

Speech Solutions? (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370660)

FTA: "To make the interactions Jeopardy!-style, speech solutions developer Nuance is currently working with IBM to provide Watson speech recognition software customized with medical jargon. Doctors could query Watson’s database on the go by speaking into a handheld device."

Fuck speech solutions. Why do we keep getting this crap pushed on us? Have the doctor text-message the frigging thing and not risk any speech-ambuiguity errors.

Judging from how well speech-menu phone systems work for me, I would run in panic before trusting anything from a speech-activated automatic doctor's assistant.

Re:Speech Solutions? (1)

Eggplant62 (120514) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370700)

I work in medical transcription, on a system developed and promoted by Nuance, one that incorporates speech recognition to aid in the transcription of the notes that must be produced for each patient encounter. I can type transcription at a rate of around 185-200 65-char lines per hour. Add in a speech rec engine and I can get 475-525 an hour. It's not hard to figure out that it's all for the productivity boost and cost-cutting effect that speech rec adds to the patient care cost equation.

Re:Speech Solutions? (2)

Grygus (1143095) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370730)

Not to mention that you want doctors to actually use the system, which is less likely if you're giving them a bunch of extra stuff to type. That makes it feel administrative; many doctors feel burdened by paperwork as it is.

Re:Speech Solutions? (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 3 years ago | (#36371074)

But if it's not right, and someone dies because of it, then frankly I don't care about the ~300 extra lines per hour. Especially when dealing with critical/technical symptom input as in the demo of TFA.

You expect a doctor to spell? (2)

msobkow (48369) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370738)

In order for a doctor to use a text input device, they'd have to be able to spell. And given the number of times my pharmacists have had to call for clarification or "interpret" a doctor's scrawl, I'm pretty sure the vast majority of them can't.

But that doesn't change the fact that speech-recognition technology still can't deal with accents very well, and it's been a long, long time since I've seen a doctor who was born and raised in north america.

Re:You expect a doctor to spell? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36370784)

If I put your post through Watson and asked for an inference regarding your personality, the output would probably be

Prescription Drug Addict; Racist

Re:You expect a doctor to spell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36370806)

In order for a doctor to use a text input device, they'd have to be able to spell. And given the number of times my pharmacists have had to call for clarification or "interpret" a doctor's scrawl, I'm pretty sure the vast majority of them can't.

Oh, they can spell. After that much time spent in school and considering the amount of paperwork they face (especially early in their career), doctors probably spell much better than the average person.

No, it's that they're doctors and don't have time for such menial things like clear handwriting. Let the lesser mortals learn to decode their holy script; they're busy!

Re:Speech Solutions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36370746)

Fuck speech solutions.

Watson: What is, 'If you have only 40 dollars I can get you off with a hand job.' Reality TV for $300, Alex.

Re:Speech Solutions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36371258)

Wow, it really works! That's a cure for blue balls.

Re:Speech Solutions? (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370768)

FTA: "To make the interactions Jeopardy!-style, speech solutions ... Watson speech recognition software is customized with medical jargon. Doctors could query Watson’s database on the go by speaking into a handheld device.

Makes me think of this:

"I'll take Animal Genitalia - Audio Clues" for 200 Alex. - Colin Mochrie, "Whose Line is it Anyway?"

Watson as an OB/GYN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36370670)

When delivering a baby boy will pronounce, "You've got male."

Idiocracy... (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370694)

...here we come!

All kidding aside, computers are certainly great at memorizing and regurgitating information, especially highly complex information with numerous variables involved. However, they're still a ways to go before they can actually create new information. Once they can do that though, that's when AI becomes a reality.

Re:Idiocracy... (3, Interesting)

Grygus (1143095) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370766)

You do realize that memorizing and regurgitating known information is the perfect skill for 99.9% of medical diagnosis? As long as Watson knows how to say, "I don't know" it will be as good or better than the vast majority of humans at this particular task.

Re:Idiocracy... (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370892)

You do realize that memorizing and regurgitating known information is the perfect skill for 99.9% of medical diagnosis?

As the GPP said: "Idiocracy, here we come".

Do you realize that about 20 years ago, a good physician was good because of thinking rather than regurgitating?
Believe me, the good ones were much better than today's GP-s + the whole lot of newer lab kits. Granted, bad physicians of the time were much worse than today.

Re:Idiocracy... (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#36371120)

I disagree; doctors cannot and should not be making up medicine as they go along. Medical practice (as opposed to medical research) is fundamentally the same as car repair; you map a set of symptoms to the correct treatment. A doctor who imagines himself to have some great inductive gift is a danger to his/her patients, because their eccentricities are almost certainly nothing more than bias, or anomalies in the small sample size constituting their personal experience.

I'm not sure how thinking vs. regurgitating applies here. Computers are far better than people at long chains of deduction, and probabilities, especially ones involving numerous variables, should that become necessary.

But don't get me wrong, I wouldn't yet want to undergo treatment suggested by an expert system without a human doctor reviewing it first. Aside from any "inherent" abilities of computers, it all depends on the quality and suitability of the particular implementation which is something else entirely.

Re:Idiocracy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36370782)

As opposed to a GP telling me to rest and take plenty of fluids after asking me "What are your views on antibiotics?"

Re:Idiocracy... (3, Interesting)

similar_name (1164087) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370818)

However, they're still a ways to go before they can actually create new information.

This is true of most people.

Once they can do that though, that's when AI becomes a reality.

I always found it interesting that computers are never good enough until they can beat the best that humanity has to offer. Computers could beat most people at chess long before beating grand masters, but it wasn't until computers could beat the best human in the world that they were good enough. Likewise, Watson had to beat the best Jeopardy players before being good enough. So now, computers have to be better than the best doctor before being good enough. So, even if you make a computer that could graduate in the middle of a class of doctors, it won't be good enough until it can do better than them all. I just find it interesting as it says so much about us.

Re:Idiocracy... (1)

lennier (44736) | more than 3 years ago | (#36371024)

So, even if you make a computer that could graduate in the middle of a class of doctors, it won't be good enough until it can do better than them all.

I for one eagerly await the pilot episode of "Doogie HX9000 Model 101, M.D.".

They've had these for years (5, Funny)

tehpuppet (1065678) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370752)

Hello Patient, my name is Dr Sbaitso.

I am here to help you.
Say whatever is in your mind freely,
our conversation will be kept in strict confidence.
Memory contents will be wiped off after you leave,

So, tell me about your problems..

Re:They've had these for years (1)

shibashaba (683026) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370938)

best therapist i ever had. I miss him.

Re:They've had these for years (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36370994)

Oh noooooooo....PARITY ERROR..........23489037098325907823490578902344938509348052532...Parity error recovered.

Re:They've had these for years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36371218)

parity error.

watson being way off is funny on jeopady hear kill (0)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370774)

watson being way off is funny on jeopady hear that can kill some one and lead to IBM being sued.

Re:watson being way off is funny on jeopady hear k (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36371014)

>> watson being way off is funny on jeopady hear that can kill some one and lead to IBM being sued.

This raises an interesting question. Is Watson a computer medical device or a Doctor?
The Supreme Court ruled that patients harmed by medical devices are prohibited from seeking damages from FDA approved devices.

How soon before it becomes "Doctor Watson"? (1)

Anonymous Freak (16973) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370778)

As long as it doesn't play second fiddle to a crappy search mechanism in the old Mac OS, it should do fine.

But can it do differential diagnosis? (2)

a_hanso (1891616) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370780)

and then order a lumbar puncture, MRI and broad spectrum antibiotics for the infection and then ridicule its human doctors' diagnoses with its acerbic wit?

drwatson (3, Funny)

DigitAl56K (805623) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370790)

Not recommended! He only responds to crashes, and most of the time you end up being disassembled...

Re:drwatson (3, Funny)

TavisJohn (961472) | more than 3 years ago | (#36371154)

NO DISASSEMBLE NUMBER 5!!!

Watson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36370792)

open the pod bay doors Watson

I can see it now ... (1)

Fractal Dice (696349) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370796)

I'm sorry Mr. Smith, but it appears you have an acute case of Toronto.

Re:I can see it now ... (1)

Nikker (749551) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370940)

What is Toronto?

Lazy Doctors? (1)

Mogusha (1091607) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370804)

I'm all for having more expert computers in the fields, as it means we can potentially get better treatment. But, people tend to be lazy, and I'm sure, given as many patients as some doctors have to see in a day, that some of the people that are supposed to be doing what we hire doctors to do will be just asking watson for the treatment with probably only a half-assed attempt at verifying how good those results may be. It seems like Isabel might have a bit more promise in these markets for safety.

Also, if Isabel doesn't understand non-jargon, why not develop a way to use Watson to "translate" into technical speak for Isabel. Then again, that might just be a google translate style accident waiting to happen.

Wasn't this the promise of... (3, Interesting)

Nutria (679911) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370836)

LISP and Prolog-based expert systems 30 years ago?

Re:Wasn't this the promise of... (1)

dogmatixpsych (786818) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370948)

I'm sure that Watson's speech recognition probably won't do very well with LISPs.

Re:Wasn't this the promise of... (3, Interesting)

brusk (135896) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370978)

Not quite. The idea then was that we would teach the machines the rules, and they would follow them better/more cheaply than a human brain. The innovation here is that the system goes and looks at the published medical literature and figures out the rules on its own.

Re:Wasn't this the promise of... (3, Interesting)

ArwynH (883499) | more than 3 years ago | (#36371300)

IIRC my AI classes correctly, those systems worked. At least they had a very high accuracy, higher than most doctors. The problem was not technical, but legal. Who do you sue if the computer gets it wrong?

Which makes me wonder: will this system will fair any better?

Re:Wasn't this the promise of... (1)

unreadepitaph (1537383) | more than 3 years ago | (#36371040)

Yeah but did they beat someone at Jeopardy?

Also aren't we suppose to have flying cars by now?

It's not like the idea for Watson is new (2)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#36371264)

What is new is that it works. The concept of a system that can search through all kinds of data and intelligently answer natural language questions is something that people have been trying at for a long time. However Watson works. There are restrictions, it is domain specific (the original Watson was for Jeopardy questions), it isn't perfect, and so on, but it works.

Hence all the excitement. It isn't that other systems didn't want to do something like this or promise this, it is that Watson delivers.

Half the work is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36370838)

the patient. If people in general learned to observe their behavior, physiology, and life with a bit of instruction on what to look for, medicine wouldn't nearly need as much diagnosis time as it now requires. Of course, this would also require people adjust their lifestyle when a diagnosis or treatment might call for it.

Throw massing amounts of computing power into diagnosing medical conditions, won't shorten the amount of time it takes to extract information from a patient on their lifestyle.

Potentially Useful (4, Interesting)

izomiac (815208) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370880)

Personally, I seriously doubt that Watson will ever advance to being able to replace a doctor for non-trivial complaints. First of all, humans are better at image processing, so if a patient looks like death then they aren't going to ask questions to rule out minor complaints. Second, patients usually don't know how to describe their symptoms, and it's up to the doctor to make sense of what they're describing (keeping in mind that some exaggerate, some understate, and others outright lie). Third, clinical references are written for humans, so they often omit various "obvious" things (e.g. to get Lyme you have to have been bitten by a tick, which may not be very likely in Barrow, Alaska).

OTOH, I can see Watson being immensely useful on the back end. For example, which second-line blood pressure medications have been show to be highly effective with few side effects in 65 year old male caucasians who also have diabetes, and, of those, which has the best interaction profile with the other drugs this patient is taking? Clinical guidelines help, but they're obviously simplified and generalized. It'd take a human ages to research the literature to figure that out, but an AI like Watson could potentially do it in a few seconds. Such a tool could take a lot of the guesswork out of medicine.

Re:Potentially Useful (1)

Kozz (7764) | more than 3 years ago | (#36371274)

...which second-line blood pressure medications have been show to be highly effective with few side effects in 65 year old male caucasians who also have diabetes, and, of those, which has the best interaction profile with the other drugs this patient is taking?

Hopefully Watson is never fed the content from Slashdot, or it will short-circuit from all the "repeat after me: correlation is not causation", and thus never choose any remedy.

Re:Potentially Useful (1)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 3 years ago | (#36371288)

"Please state the nature of the medical emergency..."

Re:Potentially Useful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36371318)

THIS, mod parent up.

Since when.. (1)

kckman (885561) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370914)

Would an average "new" patient have the slightest clue about how to describe an ailment? Feel pain in chest= Watson's instant heart ailment regimen that dispenses nitro glycerin on the spot? It could work if the "new" patient were in the medical profession and had some idea how to phrase the question in the form of an answer.. Patient: "It hurts when I do this" Watson: "What is, don't do that?"

Computer... (2)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#36370998)

Just do as Geordi La Forged does. When he has a problem, he sits down and speaks into the air starting with the following statement "Computer...".

So, this is how much of our research will be conducted at office around the world. Get ready for the revolution. This will be much easier than "googling" you're way out of a problem. Much MUCH easier.

Production: Computer... have X-materials with Y-funding and an Z-deadline. What is the most profitable solution.

Investor: Computer...I have money in the bank and need to do some low frequency trading. Please review the past history and make me money.

Mechanic: Computer....These are my symptoms for this make/model a vehicle. This is the work previously done on it."

Inventor: Computer...design me the best fractal antenna you can.

Developer: Computer...design a better version of yourself, put it into production, and repeat. Queue theme music to the Terminator

DRWTSN32.EXE (1)

HideyoshiJP (1392619) | more than 3 years ago | (#36371058)

Dr. Watson? Oh man, I remember that guy! He was always asking for my crash dumps.

Ten years ago on my Palm Pilot (1)

rcamans (252182) | more than 3 years ago | (#36371122)

I had a program that did a far better job of diagnosing patients than doctors could. But Doctors were not interested in actually doing a better doctoring job. They were strictly interested in making more money. Do you think they do plastic surgery because it cures people? Do you think they are treating ulcers with tagamet instead of antibiotics because the antibiotics would cure you fast? Do you think they would be avoiding using checklists in surgeries because checklists cut surgical complications by a factor of three?
No. These things would all decrease the Godhood of doctors. and their possible annual incomes.

Re:Ten years ago on my Palm Pilot (4, Insightful)

maztuhblastah (745586) | more than 3 years ago | (#36371336)

Do you think they do plastic surgery because it cures people? Do you think they are treating ulcers with tagamet instead of antibiotics because the antibiotics would cure you fast?

I was starting to listen to what you were saying until I read this.

The current standard treatment for Helicobacter Pylori is a triple-therapy regime which does indeed include antibiotics. It is highly effective and usually results in eradication.

Cimetidine hasn't been used as a treatment for ulcers in since the discovery of H. Pylori, many years ago. Considering that there are a number of modern antibiotics that are active against H. Pylori it is quite rare for a patient to not receive some antibiotic cocktail -- and even if there were a patient who (for some reason) could not receive *any* antibiotics, PPIs would almost certainly be used in place of cimetidine.

I'm sorry you have such a vendetta against physicians. Perhaps your views will change with age. I know that mine certainly did as I entered adulthood.

We don't need no stinkin' AI! (3, Insightful)

Shauni (1164077) | more than 3 years ago | (#36371126)

Just bring us into the 21st century, for the love of FSM! Modern healthcare is not a doctor proscribing a treatment anymore... it's a network of specialists making recommendations and sharing data with each other. However, this "sharing" more often than not goes at pre-Internet speeds. Delays of days or even weeks are common as multiple opinions are sought, insurance companies are contacted, enormous paper portfolio are passed around, one for each facility... it's a real mess. It's not "doctoring" that keeps them busy; it's bureaucracy. It's reading test results off of carbon paper forms and waiting to see if their patient can even afford the "gold standard" treatment they want to give them (even if they're insured!)

Watson can't deal with any of that, really. And that ignores the danger bureaucratic errors can pose to an AI, such as test results that are inexplicably attributed to the wrong patient... what happens when Watson makes a crap diagnosis because of bad data? Can he eliminate bad data or even "show his work?"

Dr. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36371160)

Watson: Please state the nature of the medical emergency.

You can see it coming like a freight train (1)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 3 years ago | (#36371212)

When "computers go wild," for a brief moment in time, humans will say "Woa... we made movies about this happening. Why were we so blind?"
BrNah, i'm completely kidding. "Insert Carl Sagan famous quote here."

Idiocracy (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36371232)

No, wait, this one goes in your butt.

I don't think Doctors like the idea (1)

jader3rd (2222716) | more than 3 years ago | (#36371244)

I don't think Doctors like the idea of being put out of a job. Remember the HMO's of the '90's and how they were the company to hate? Remember what they did? They'd look at a doctors notes and if the doctors conclusion didn't statistically match the symptoms they'd deny expensive coverage. It was a way to keep costs down. So hospital fought back with "Don't let anyone get between you and your doctor" campains. The result... the HMO's gave up, and now that anything the doctors say goes, we have soaring health costs. Imagine that. I don't see how it would be different with Watson. Paitent comes in, Watson hears all of their symptoms and recommends a simple home remedy, because statistically that's what their symptoms match. The paitent wanted their insurance to cover a medication and expensive treatment, and told that they were unique and special. Stupid computer, what does it know?

Welcome to Drive through Doctors R Us! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36371316)

I for one am looking forward to the age of the drive through robotic doctor. It's kinda like a carwash - with MRIs and X-Rays built in. :p

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