• The algorithm will see you now, ctd

    From The Washington Post:

    IBM is now training Watson to be a cancer specialist. The idea is to use Watson’s increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence to find personalized treatments for every cancer patient by comparing disease and treatment histories, genetic data, scans and symptoms against the vast universe of medical knowledge. […]

    But the Watson project and similar initiatives also have raised speculation — and alarm — that companies are seeking to replace the nation’s approximately 900,000 physicians with software that will have access to everyone’s sensitive personal health information. […]

    “I think a lot of folks in medicine, quite frankly, tend to be afraid of technology like this,” said Iltifat Husain, an assistant professor at the Wake Forest School of Medicine.

    Husain, who directs the mobile app curriculum at Wake Forest, agrees that computer systems like Watson will probably vastly improve patients’ quality of care. But he is emphatic that computers will never truly replace human doctors for the simple reason that the machines lack instinct and empathy. […]

    Unlike a human brain that can be distracted, confused or inspired by huge volumes of information, Watson is not a creative thinker but a rational one. It looks at known associations among various bits of data and calculates the probability that one provides a better answer to a question than another and presents the top ideas to the user.

    Here’s a University of Oxford paper on how susceptible jobs are to replacement by computers. Here’s Steven Pearlstein on a book from MIT scholars on the same theme. Here’s an article on algorithms replacing anesthesiologists.

    @afrakt

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