The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence

In a New Play, Trusty Sidekick Is a Supercomputer
NPR. December 13, 2013

Fed up with human shortcomings, the characters in Madeleine George’s play turn to high-tech companions. Could machines be assistants, friends, and even partners? The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence explores the amazing things technology can do for us…and what it can’t.

So in my story the character of Eliza is a computer scientist and she has kind of, like, lifted some of IBM’s technology from a job that she used to have there and taken it off and embedded it in a sociable robot.

GEORGE: And also how they felt about Watson. And they were quite candid about saying things like “I love Watson“. Or “Watson is just like another child to me“. That – I felt hardened by it because I know how easy it is for people who are not specialists to fall in a kind of love with our machines.

IBM’s massive bet on Watson

The tool is currently in development
April 11, 2014

IBM’s massive bet on Watson
Fortune Magazine. September 19, 2013

Dr. Mark Kris is among the top lung cancer specialists in the world.
As chief of thoracic oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering (MSK) Cancer Center in New York City, he has been diagnosing and treating patients for more than 30 years.
But even he is overwhelmed by the massive amount of information that goes into figuring out which drugs to give his patients — and the relatively crude tools he has to decipher that data.
“This is the standard for treatment today,” he says, passing me a well-worn printout of the 2013 treatment guidelines in his office.
We choose a cancer type. A paragraph of instructions says to pair two drugs from a list of 16. “Do the math,” he says. It means more than 100 possible combinations. “How do you figure out which ones are the best?”

It’s a huge problem. More than 230,000 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year.
Almost all of them will receive chemotherapy. As crude as the existing guidelines are, says Kris, they won’t be followed more than half the time. If we bumped up adherence by just 10% to 20%, he says, as many as 30,000 people might live longer. Never mind curing cancer — shouldn’t we be able to get the best available combinations of medications to sick people now?

That’s the question that led Kris to IBM. He saw that more information was not the answer.
What doctors needed was a better brain — one that could instantly vacuum up facts, draw deeper connections between data points, and remember everything. They needed Watson.


The Robot Will See You Now

The Robot Will See You Now
Feb 20 2013

IBM’s Watson—the same machine that beat Ken Jennings at Jeopardy—is now churning through case histories at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, learning to make diagnoses and treatment recommendations. This is one in a series of developments suggesting that technology may be about to disrupt health care in the same way it has disrupted so many other industries. Are doctors necessary? Just how far might the automation of medicine go?

Are doctors necessary?

Just how far might the automation of medicine go?

processing up to 60 million pages of text per second, even when that text is in the form of plain old prose, or what scientists call “natural language.”

something like 80 percent of all information is “unstructured.” In medicine, it consists of physician notes dictated into medical records, long-winded sentences published in academic journals, and raw numbers stored online by public-health departments.

Watson even has the ability to convey doubt. When it makes diagnoses and recommends treatments, it usually issues a series of possibilities, each with its own level of confidence attached.

see also:

Machine Learning and Language – Just a Hot Away from the Enterprise Evolutionary Leap

Machine Learning and Language – Just a Hot Away from the Enterprise Evolutionary Leap
Structure: Data. March 20-21, 2013
Currie Boyle Distinguished Engineer, IBM
Vland Sejnoha CTO, Nuance Communications

How Watson has evolved since that Jeopardy match?

natural language processing
natural language understanding
dialog management systems
average query: 2.4 words
try to determine the intent of the user … the intent of the author … and match those
extracting the meaning
determinin g the best action
the conversational stack: has to interact with content sources, …
the promise of the semantic web: publish in standard formats … ontologies …
W3C initiatives



Machine Learning at Build 2016
April 21, 2016


Ken Jennings: Watson, Jeopardy and me, the obsolete know-it-all

Ken Jennings: Watson, Jeopardy and me, the obsolete know-it-all
Feb. 2013
Trivia whiz Ken Jennings has made a career as a keeper of facts; he holds the longest winning streak in history on the U.S. game show Jeopardy.
But in 2011, he played a challenge match against supercomputer Watson — and lost.
With humor and humility, Jennings tells us how it felt to have a computer literally beat him at his own game, and also makes the case for good old-fashioned human knowledge.

See also: