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Health and Medicine

Supercomputer checks into Cleveland Clinic
Watson of "Jeopardy!" fame assisting

In The Region:
IBM announced yesterday that its super-computer “Watson” is going to med school, here in Ohio. Health reporter Anne Glausser from member station WCPN has the details.
Supercomputer checks into Cleveland Clinic

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Remember Watson, the super-computer that made a media splash last year when it took on human “Jeopardy!” champs? Well now Watson, which is designed to essentially learn from experience, is going to take a stab at medicine. 

Creator IBM is partnering with the Cleveland Clinic to pilot the technology, with the aim of making a tool that could be useful to healthcare. 

David Ferrucci heads up the Watson Project at IBM Research.

“So we want to find that sweet spot between machine and humans to get better outcomes.”

The idea is that Watson could one-day help clinicians sort through the vast array of medical information out there and apply it to individual cases. 

Watson still has a lot to learn about the medical field, though--researchers hope this partnership will help. Over a period of years, the computer will accompany students through case scenarios, all the while building a database of knowledge. 

The Clinic’s Dr. Martin Harris says the hope is that eventually it’ll help doctors make decisions.

“Is this a good judgment to proceed or is there an alternative? Watson can present to you, with a probability table, instantly, the best evidence-based treatment path and all of the other alternatives for you to consider.”

Of course this vision of Watson in the exam room is still a long way off: Harris estimates the computer won’t be able to assist with advanced diagnosis for another 5-10 years.
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