Dr. Watson: The 'Jeopardy!' Computer Finds New Life Fighting Cancer

More

Later this year, Sloan Kettering will put Watson's smarts to work answering questions beyond trivia.

AP

If you remember Watson, the super-smart supercomputer, it's probably from the machine's (in)famous appearance on Jeopardy! last year.

It turns out, though, that Watson was destined for much more than game-show glory. Doctors at New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Wired reports, will soon begin using Watson's computing power to help them make medical diagnoses. Dr. Mark Kris, Sloan Kettering's chief of thoracic oncology, is less than a year away from launching a system that uses Watson's brainpower to navigate the hospital's amazingly rich databases of research and treatment history. Instead of an answer to a trivia question, Watson will generate treatment recommendations for doctors. Jeopardy! meets House.

"The connection came when I learned that Watson could look at case histories at an institution like ours and say what were the best choices that our doctors made," Dr. Kris tells Wired of the idea for giving Watson his medical license. And, once implemented, the approach will allow Watson to act as a kind of know-it-all apprentice for Sloan Kettering's human doctors, offering ranked treatment options based on the cross-analysis of patients' medical records and the latest medical literature -- and providing, basically, another diagnostic layer for doctors. The system, Kris notes, "will allow us to have an unprecedented way of collecting and analyzing information about individual patients and present a doctor and a patient with a listing of treatment options made by looking at case histories from Sloan-Kettering, the world's medical literature, and specific information from that patient."

Most intriguingly, doctors won't have to have a supercomputer on the premises to avail themselves of Watson's services. To the contrary, Dr. Kris is imagining a system that doctors can use over the Internet, freely. "The idea is that it would come through the cloud to a laptop or an iPad," Kris says. And the goal "is to make it available to doctors around the world."

Jump to comments
Presented by

Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was formerly an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab, where she wrote about innovations in the media.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Why Did I Study Physics?

In this hand-drawn animation, a college graduate explains why she chose her major—and what it taught her about herself.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Video

What If Emoji Lived Among Us?

A whimsical ad imagines what life would be like if emoji were real.

Video

Living Alone on a Sailboat

"If you think I'm a dirtbag, then you don't understand the lifestyle."

Video

How Is Social Media Changing Journalism?

How new platforms are transforming radio, TV, print, and digital

Video

The Place Where Silent Movies Sing

How an antique, wind-powered pipe organ brings films to life

Feature

The Future of Iced Coffee

Are artisan businesses like Blue Bottle doomed to fail when they go mainstream?

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

Just In