The University of Maryland School of Medicine is helping to educate a new student: a computer that gained fame on the TV quiz show, “Jeopardy.”
n mid-February, Watson, an IBM computer capable of answering verbal questions posed in natural language, appeared on “Jeopardy” and defeated champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.
Now, the University of Maryland medical school has joined IBM, software developer Nuance and Columbia University Medical Center to apply Watson’s technology to medicine.
The University of Maryland secured a grant from IBM for initial development about one year ago, said Dr. Eliot Siegel, professor and vice chairman of the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Department of Diagnostic Radiology. The university is suggesting medical literature for Watson to “learn” and is teaching it about unusual cases dealing with rare diseases or unexpected symptoms.
The hope, say those involved with the project, is that doctors could eventually use it in hospitals to assist with diagnoses or to answer verbal questions - elevating it beyond the more typical reference tool that computers have served as in the past.