LAS VEGAS: Any firms interested in trying out IBM’s Watson technology should prepare for disappointment, as IBM is not accepting new test projects for its artificial intelligence machine.
Robert Madey, vice president for IBM Watson Solutions, said that he is inundated with requests for the technology, with 10 proposals a day passing his desk with new ideas on how to use Watson.
“If you come to me right now and ask, ‘How many millions [for Watson], I’d say sorry, no can do. I’ve got all the pilots I need. The big mission right now isn’t selling Watson, it’s proving Watson can work in a commercial environment,” he explained.
“Eighty or 90 per cent of these requests don’t need Watson anyway, technology already exists for what they need.”
Madey was presenting at the IBM Impact conference in Las Vegas on the Jeopardy-beater’s progress in the commercial space. Healthcare and financial services have been early test environments, with WellPoint and Citibank both running Watson projects.
“Ninety per cent of the world’s data was created in the last two years, and businesses, governments and healthcare providers can’t put it into use, make sense of it or put it into their processes,” Madey said.
To train Watson for the healthcare sector, the first step was to ask nurses to sit down and write over 2,000 questions to ask the machine, with the objective being that it could tell a doctor whether a treatment being considered was authorised or the norm for a patient with those particular symptoms.
“Medical information is doubling every five years, and most of it is unstructured. We want to make this data available to specialists, that’s Watson’s mission for the next year in healthcare,” Madey said.
Madeline Bennett is editor of V3 and The INQUIRER. Previously, she was editor of IT Week. Prior to becoming a journalist, Madeline was an English teacher at a London secondary school. Madeline is a regular technology commentator on TV and radio, including Sky, BBC and CNN.