With a victory that was certainly commendable but not really all that surprising, IBM's supercomputer Watson successfully finished the three-day Jeopardy tournament last night by beating its human competitors by a whopping $50,000. A victory for artificial intelligence and computer science. Scrawled at the bottom of his final Jeopardy response, Jennings quipped "I for one welcome our new computer overlords."
Today, IBM announced its post-Jeopardy plans for our new overlords: healthcare.
As ReadWriteWeb's Alex Williams has argued, the Jeopardy display wasn't really about science; it was a game. And it was a game that really only alluded to the great potentials of Watson's analytical abilities. So now IBM is turning that research to different applications, outside the realm of Hollywood game shows.
IBM has announced a partnership with Nuance Communications to utilize Watson's technology in healthcare. The partnership will involve research combining IBM's Deep Question Answering, natural language processing, and machine learning capabilities with Nuance's speech recognition and Clinical Language Understanding solutions. The goal is to help improve diagnosis and treatment of patients.
According to Dr. John Kelly, senior VP and director of IBM Research, "Combining our analytics expertise with the experience and technology of Nuance, we can transform the way that healthcare professionals accomplish everyday tasks by enabling them to work smarter and more efficiently." This will allow, for example, a doctor to consider diagnosis and treatment options using Watson's analytics and Nuance's clinical language processing technologies in order to quickly process the latest information from research journals.
"Watson has the potential to help doctors reduce the time needed to evaluate and determine the correct diagnosis for a patient," said Dr. Herbert Chase, professor of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
At least our new overlords care about medicine, right?