A Visit to Dr. Watson

Here’s Ezra Klein:

In certain important ways, this will be less pleasant than the status quo. Dr. Watson won’t ask you if you’re scared or assure you that everything will be all right or talk you through the procedure. There’ll be no human touch, unless you want to pay extra for one. But in certain ways, it’ll be better than the status quo. For one thing, there’ll be no waiting times. Dr. Watson can see a lot of patients at once.

Here’s Andrew McAfee:

What’s more, Dr. Watson knows what it knows, and what it doesn’t know. If a case has it stumped — if it doesn’t have high confidence in its own diagnosis — it can call in the humans to take over. No pride or ego will get in the way of its doing so.

The entire McAfee piece is worth reading.

Comments (5)

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  1. Vicki says:

    I think Dr. Watson is going to be lacking a certain bed side manner.

  2. Joe S. says:

    Vicki, the question is: how important is bed side manner to patients?

    If not very important, Watson could be excellent as a clinical diagnostician.

    If very important, he will be a complete failure.

  3. Tom H. says:

    What happens when Watson is wrong? Remember, on Jeopardy, he thought a Canadian city was a US city. This is like thinking a kidney is the spleen.

  4. Brian Williams. says:

    Can Dr. Watson set a broken bone or sew up stitches?

  5. Devon Herrick says:

    Dr. Watson uses the Internet as a huge search engine. That’s an interesting concept but it needs to go further. A few years ago I read an article in the journal Access to Energy that explained how mass spectrometry has the potential to transform medicine. If done in volume, mass spectrometry machines could scan bodily fluids (breath, saliva, fecal material) for markers for disease. People would know the state of their health from a baseline. This (coupled with millions of outcomes) would be the dataset that a super computer would need.