After securing a place in pop history (and in Trivial Pursuit) by besting two legendary champions on the TV quiz show Jeopardy, IBM's Watson is tackling more profound challenges, notably in healthcare. The progression from instant recall of a breadth of facts (and remembering to phrase the answer in the form of a question) to helping humans make better medical decisions was engagingly recounted by Eric Brown, PhD, Director of Watson Technologies, IBM, during a keynote address on June 10 at the Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) East conference and exhibition.
Brown began his keynote by presenting a mind-boggling graph that showed the exponential growth of big data, and, more importantly, the "onslaught of uncertain data. As you can see, something bad is about to happen," said Brown. Approximately 80% of data falls into this nebulous category, and that's where cognitive computing, of which Watson is the current exemplar, can bring relevance, context, and clarity.