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IBM, Cleveland Clinic turning Watson towards medical support

updated 01:46 pm EDT, Wed October 31, 2012

Knowledge system to be used to diagnose patients

Cleveland Clinic and IBM are to work together to implement Watson's Deep Question Answering technology in a medical capacity. Researchers will work with Watson and medical students to improve the system's knowledge, as well as to find any challenges that could appear when putting such a technology to real-world use.

As the task of reading and remembering everything in text books and medical journals is acknowledged to be impossible for a medical student to accomplish, this will be where Watson will be put to work. As Watson has shown it can be used to reference large bodies of work and find connections between separate subjects, students will be using the system to test a variety of hypotheses for ailments, and creating potential answers and diagnoses for obscure medical issues. The student interaction will also help improve Watson's language and domain analysis capabilities, and in time, create an electronic medical record based on a deep semantic understanding of content.

While doctors are moving away from rote memorization tasks and towards critical thinking, tools such as Watson will help in rational decision-making processes, offering evidence for various courses of action.

Chief Information Officer of Cleveland Clinic C. Martin Harris, MD, said the partnership with IMB "offers us the opportunity to teach Watson to 'think' in ways that have the potential to make it a powerful tool in medicine."

Watson is famous for appearing on TV game show Jeopardy, where its understanding of cryptic statements allowed it to beat both Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings. During the appearance, four terabytes of data including the full text of Wikipedia was used by the system, without accessing the Internet. In a second match between Watson and members of the US Congress, the computer once again came out on top, winning $40,300 to $30,000.

by MacNN Staff



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