Disruption ahead: Deloitte's point of view on IBM Watson8 9. What makes Watson unique In technical terms, IBM Watson is an advanced open-domain question answering (QA) system with deep natural language processing (NLP) capabilities. At this point, the Watson Software as a Service (SaaS) platform is most effectively used to sift through massive amounts of text--documents, emails, social posts, and more--to answer questions in real time. Watson accepts questions posed by the user in natural language and provides the user with a response (or a set of responses) by generating and evaluating various hypotheses around different interpretations of the question and possible answers to it. Unlike keyword-based search engines, which simply retrieve relevant documents, Watson gleans context from the question to provide the user with precise and relevant answers, along with confidence ratings and supporting evidence. Its learning capabilities allow Watson to adapt and improve hypothesis generation and evaluation processes over time through interactions with users. Developers and other users can improve the accuracy of responses by "training" Watson. IBM is also continuing to expand Watson's capabilities to incorporate visualization, reasoning, ability to relate to users, and deeper exploration to gain a broader understanding of the information content. Watson recently launched a new platform service that has the ability to ingest and interpret still and video images, which is another significant type of unstructured data.
Big Blue promised its AI platform would be a big step forward in treating cancer. But after pouring billions into the project, the diagnosis is gloomy. This article is being republished as part of our daily reproduction of WSJ.com articles that also appeared in the U.S. print edition of The Wall Street Journal (August 11, 2018). That's what International Business Machines Corp. asked soon after its artificial-intelligence system beat humans at the quiz show "Jeopardy!" in 2011. Watson could read documents quickly and find patterns in data.
"Watson represents a technology breakthrough that can help physicians improve patient outcomes," said Herbert Chase, a professor of biomedical informatics at Columbia University, in a 2012 IBM press release. Six years and billions of dollars later, the diagnosis for Watson is gloomy. More than a dozen IBM partners and clients have halted or shrunk Watson's oncology-related projects. Watson cancer applications have had limited impact on patients, according to dozens of interviews with medical centers, companies and doctors who have used it, as well as documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. In many cases, the tools didn't add much value.
Most of the time, artificial intelligence (AI) is discussed with respect to how it will make our technology devices better, how it'll usher in driverless cars, or even how dangerous it could be for warfare. But AI capabilities could also drastically improve the efficiency and quality of healthcare. Algorithms, image recognition technology, natural-language processing, and other AI technologies could end up making our healthcare cheaper, speed up the time it takes to develop new drugs, and even help diagnose diseases in collaboration with doctors. It takes pharmaceutical companies an average of 10 to 15 years to discover and develop a new drug. Some companies, including International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM), believe that AI can drastically reduce the time to find new drugs by sifting through vast amounts of genetic and clinical data.
Some say that artificial intelligence (AI) will radically change healthcare in the future. But that prediction overlooks an important detail: AI is already significantly changing healthcare. IBM (NYSE:IBM) Watson Health general manager Deborah DiSanzo spoke at the annual J. P. Morgan Healthcare Conference on Wednesday. She provided an update on the progress that IBM Watson, the AI system famous for beating Jeopardy! DiSanzo highlighted four areas where AI is making a big difference today.