If you want a doctor who can win first prize in a television game show, IBM has got the quack for you.
IBM's Watson computer system, which defeated the world's best Jeopardy players, can now suggest diagnoses and treatments. Biggish Blue has been experimenting with getting its Watson computer to deal with a huge data base of symptoms and case history. If it works, it will mean that Dr House will no longer have to remember some rare disorder in the last five minutes of the show and can find out that you have Scruttle's Syndrome within seconds.
It was able to change its suggestions when it gained more details of the patent's history. The database is being fed a diet of medical textbooks and journals and taking training questions in plain language from medical students. A doctor who is helping IBM says its database might soon include entries from blogs. (Good, now we can cut your health insurance. sub.ed.)