According to USENET newsgroups, IBM’s Watson supercomputer is gathering a working resume that any oncologist would envy. In its latest project, the supercomputer will be used to to assist Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center physicians in diagnosing and treating patients.
When Big Blue debuted its lively computer on Jeopardy! last year, we knew it was only a matter of time before its abilities were used in the real world. And that starts with the hospital, apparently.
Watson can understand natural English and also process about 1 million books per second. With this enormous power, he was able to beat two of the all-time top players on Jeopardy!
Cancer treatment has become a lot more complicated over the last several years, and new methods of treatment are being invented all the time. Most physicians can’t keep up with everything, and it can take years for new treatments to become currrent. On top of that, few patients (Sloan Kettering says only about 15 percent) make it to specialized cancer centers in the first place.
With intelligent databases — and the computers to help sift through them — the hope is that technology can help disperse the most advanced knowledge available, without the patient skipping from specialist to specialist.