What is Watson? From Jeopardy to the Cleveland Clinic

Famed Supercomputer to Become Medical Resource

Watson, the IBM-created supercomputer equipped with capabilities of understanding and responding to humans, has headed to the Cleveland Clinic. The goal is to garner a broader medical informational base to become a valuable and usable tool for health care providers in the continued evolution of modern medicine. 

Supercomputer Becomes Jeopardy Champ

what is watson

Watson first made headlines during an appearance on Jeopardy in early 2011 – a game show powered by the encyclopedic knowledge and quick reflexes of its competitors. Jeopardy proved to be the ideal battleground for a showdown between humans and intelligent machines. The supercomputer dominated its human competitors during a special Jeopardy tournament that pinned Watson against two of the game show’s most memorable and successful competitors. Competitors were Ken Jennings, who is best remembered for winning 74 shows in a row, and Brad Rutter. While Watson was shown to be imperfect over the course of the three day tournament, it was obvious to viewers that it had an impressive grasp on a broad range of subject matter as well as the ability to process and reciprocate human language through effective communications.

Watson came away as the victor with a final score of $77,147 to Jennings’s $24,000 and Rutter’s $21,600.

Watson Goes to Medical School

Watson’s capacity to store vast amounts of information and process it in a matter of milliseconds proved beneficial on the quick-recall game show; however, its designers have high hopes that there are broader, more valuable applications for this advanced computer technology.

It was reported in October 2012 that Watson would head to the venerable Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University to increase its health care expertise and assist medical professionals in diagnosing and treating patients. Designers and professionals at Cleveland Clinic hope this will help bridge information technology and medical science innovations to help better diagnose and treat patients in the near future through advances in science and technology.

Humans aren’t able to match Watson’s ability to store and quickly process large volumes of information. Consequently, Medical professionals at Lerner will take advantage of Watson’s ability to store and process large quantities of information to help speed up and increase the accuracy of the diagnostic process in the future.

“You’d like to bring all that knowledge to bear on the clinical problem and the patient sitting in front of you,” said Dr. James Stoller, chair of the Cleveland Clinic’s education institute, in an article posted on ModernHealthcare.com.

The goal for Watson’s tenure at Lerner is to infuse the supercomputer with inordinate amounts of medical research, journal articles and conference papers so it has an expansive library of information to pull from when creating a list of prospective diagnoses for doctors to then utilize when creating patient treatment plans. According to Dr. Neil Mehta, director of education technology at Lerner, Watson will be able to tell doctors how confident it is in its diagnosis; doctors can then move forward with treatment. Medical professionals at Lerner will help boost Watson’s confidence level by helping IBM designers and programmers refine medical-related algorithms.

Watson will also become an instrumental classroom tool to help medical students learn from its research and collected data to help them better understand diagnoses and treatment plans. The group learning model will also help Watson become a more adept medical tool, as student interaction with the supercomputer will help it think more analytically and develop more problem-solving capabilities.

The supercomputer marks a huge breakthrough in the artificial intelligence field, and computer science experts and health care professionals see tremendous value in this new technology in the medical industry.

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