From Jeopardy to Fighting Cancer—IBM’s Watson at XSITE on Thursday

6/11/12Follow @bbuderi

It was a much-publicized human vs. computer challenge match—and it wasn’t good for the humans early last year, when the IBM supercomputer Watson handily beat two of Jeopardy’s top human contestants ever to win a $1 million prize.

But while Big Blue donated its winnings to charity, the intended benefits of Watson, of course, came in applying the natural language understanding and artificial intelligence technologies that made Jeopardy dominance possible to more meaningful fields than game shows.

One of the first of those arenas is the fight against cancer. And we are really pleased that a first-hand look at that effort is on the agenda this Thursday, June 14, at XSITE, our full-day Xconomy Summit on Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship conference at Babson College.

Delivering the Watson keynote will be Jayashree Subrahmonia, VP of Development and Delivery for Watson Solutions, from Big Blue’s Silicon Valley Lab. In no way does IBM envision replacing doctors. However, she says, the computer’s ability to digest the latest journal articles, medical text books, and other structured and unstructured data, including a patient’s medical records—and then generate hypotheses and pinpoint the most likely approaches—could enable Watson to deliver diagnosis and treatment recommendations to a physician based on evidence the doctor might not even know exists. (Scarily, 80 percent of doctors spend less than five hours a month reading medical journals, and 20 percent of cancer patients receive the wrong initial diagnosis, IBM says.

There’s a lot more to this—and we don’t want to spoil the surprise (or get it all wrong). So better to hear it, and see it, first hand from Subrahmonia. Among other things, she says, “What I plan to show is a concept video of how Watson is being put to work as treatment advisor.”

This unique view of where Watson is heading is all part of an incredible program this Thursday that includes plenary appearances from Evernote CEO Phil Libin, Birchbox co-founder Katia Beauchamp, entrepreneur evangelist Bill Warner, drivable airplane maker Carl Dietrich of Terrafugia, Brad Hargreaves, founder of New York’s (and now Boston’s) General Assembly, and many other great speakers. Time is running out to get tickets, which you can do right here.

Hope to see you at Babson College this Thursday.

 

 

Bob is Xconomy's founder and editor in chief. You can e-mail him at bbuderi@xconomy.com, call him at 617.500.5926. Follow @bbuderi

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