IBM Watson

Short Bytes: A woman in Japan was suffering from leukemia and the doctors were unable to come up with an effective treatment. IBM Watson was able to tell that the woman was suffering from some rare leukemia type and suggested a cure.

IBM created Watson is an artificial intelligence platform which feeds on large chunks of data and provides analysis. One of its most useful jobs is a robot doctor that suggests evidence-based medical treatment for even rare problems found in the patient. And it is doing it very efficiently.

Recently, the Institute of Medical Science doctors at the University of Tokyo had to take the assistance of IBM Watson. A woman was suffering from leukemia and doctors were unable to think of a treatment for her because the implemented options weren’t effective.

The DNA information along with her medical data was fed to IBM Watson which searched it over a database of 20 million oncology studies. Watson was able to diagnose that the woman was suffering from some other rarer form of leukemia, suggesting a more effective treatment for it.

Recently, Microsoft’s Bing search engine was able to tell that one of its users had pancreatic cancer based on the search queries. The identity of the user was not known.

These artificial robot doctors have far better analytical capabilities than what humans could pursue in reality. Like, IBM Watson can go through 40 million oncology studies in just 15 seconds to come up with a treatment option. I don’t think a doctor, or even a group, could do that in a year. Most of such data is in an unorganized fashion and ai bots like Watson are beneficial for the purpose of scanning.

One issue that degrades the quality of its working is that it can’t suggest a treatment option that‘s not been devised yet or if less amount of information is available on a disease. Also, for platforms like IBM Watson to be effective, the medical records of every person would have to be digitally stored.

That’s a tedious job, and at the same time, it puts a question mark on the privacy of the information. Medical records contain vital data like genetic history which can’t be compromised. What if some hacker gains access to the database? All of it would be exposed to the public.

Advancements are needed in this field and the researchers have been working continuously on it. It might be a matter of around 10 years when we could see a full time med with electrical circuits in his head.

If you have something to add, tell us in the comments below.

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