IBM’s Watson Supercomputer Scores First Commercial Deployment in Healthcare Industry

When IBM’s Watson supercomputer proved that the meatsack we call a human brain was inferior to its robot intellect on TV’s Jeopardy, it was an entertaining parlor trick-style PR stunt to show that Watson was capable of “learning”. Now, IBM is putting Watson to use in real life by deploying it in the medical field.

According to a Forbes report, IBM has partnered with Memorial Sloan-Kettering and WellPoint to employ Watson to help doctors treat lung cancer patients. Hospitals can access Watson via the cloud or with their own small (not nearly the size of the beast we all saw on Jeopardy) server. The report notes further that Watson’s processing power has also since been increased by 240%.

IBM Watson

The idea is that Watson is able to acquire and process information in a far greater capacity than your average human doctor and can help those folks make more accurate care decisions for patients. Doctors can apparently pose a question to Watson using plain text on a tablet and have an answer in around 30 seconds.

IBM Watson Jeopardy

While this may seem either terrific or frightening depending on your trust of humans versus robots, it’s further interesting to note that Watson will be used on the insurance side of things as well, in the area of utilization management. Which means that Watson might help your doctor make you better but can also screw you out of coverage when the bill comes.