IBM Watson Speeds Drug Research - InformationWeek

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8/28/2014
09:06 AM
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IBM Watson Speeds Drug Research

IBM Watson moves from supplying known answers to tough questions to making its own discoveries in life sciences and pharmaceutical research.

Baylor College of Medicine has published a peer-reviewed cancer study that was accelerated with help from IBM Watson Discovery Advisor.
Baylor College of Medicine has published a peer-reviewed cancer study that was accelerated with help from IBM Watson Discovery Advisor.

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D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
8/28/2014 | 9:35:12 AM
Watson Pre-Announce-Re-Announce Syndrome
IBM talked extensively about Discovery Advisor in January at a big Watson event in downtown NYC. The new news here is the cloud service release and the publication of Baylor's successful study, but you get the feeling that IBM would dearly love to get on the other side of these collaborative partnerships and into commercially successful implementations. In putting Watson under a PR microscope since the beginning by way of Jeopardy, IBM has put the pressure on to quickly mature a technology that has to go through the hype cycle like everything else. That could take years.
Ron_Hodges
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Ron_Hodges,
User Rank: Moderator
8/28/2014 | 10:00:10 AM
Re: Watson Pre-Announce-Re-Announce Syndrome
Nobody knew what to do with iPads at first either, other than consume media and play games.
D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
8/28/2014 | 12:40:36 PM
Watson is not exactly comparable to iPad
I wouldn't compare an intuitive hand-held device to a technology that has to be trained to understand a body of knowledge. Apparently Baylor has come up with a toolkit that helps with loading of scientific papers related to medical research, but that was developed based on collaborative work dating back to 2012. This is not an out-of-the-box or out-of-the-cloud proposition. 
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
8/28/2014 | 2:37:41 PM
Re: Watson Pre-Announce-Re-Announce Syndrome
The medical research is much more interesting than Jeopardy, but little in the research world moves quickly.
kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
8/28/2014 | 4:09:23 PM
Asset possibility
Interesting idea to use it to find connections in medical papers. This could be a real asset to companies trying to understand and develop treatments for all kinds of illnesses. I still want real people behind it though to verify that it's conclusions are viable.
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
8/28/2014 | 4:20:19 PM
Who would have guessed ...
... that the most valuable thing we could teach a computer to do was read really fast.
Charlie Babcock
IW Pick
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
8/28/2014 | 4:57:45 PM
Watson's on it
The problem of identifying when and how life's chemistry goes wrong is a huge one, and I for one am glad Watson is working on it. Better Watson than me.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/28/2014 | 5:16:32 PM
Re: Watson's on it
@Charlie: You read my mind! Next, I'd like to see Watson's capabilities applied to helping goernments and NGOs figure out how to provide steady sources of safe drinking water and food to the millions of people around the world who currently need those things.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/28/2014 | 5:19:41 PM
Re: Watson Pre-Announce-Re-Announce Syndrome
@Ron_Hodges: Tech history is littered with hardware and software that were too far ahead of their time. Somehow, I don't think Watson will end up on that list, though. While we have a long way to go before we truly understand how to apply this kind of cognitive computing resource, eventually Watson-like computing will become commonplace. I only hope I'm not too old to enjoy it!
Ron_Hodges
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Ron_Hodges,
User Rank: Moderator
8/28/2014 | 5:30:13 PM
Re: Watson is not exactly comparable to iPad
As William Gibson famously wrote, the street finds its own uses for things.  Like an iPad, Watson is essentially a general-purpose technology.  People are writing tools for the iPad now that I suspect were over the horizon for the people who originally developed it.  And the same, for good or ill, will be true of Watson -- it will be positioned to ingest data and answer questions for purposes we cannot necessarily predict right now.  The surface has not even been scratched with respect to the power of "cognitive computing", but as Elon Musk warned with respect to AI, we better be VERY careful how this technology is employed.  In light of revelations regarding probable malfeasance by certain Intel-related government agencies, one can easily imagine Watson being perverted into a "pre-crime" analyst.
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