Rather than relying on carpet-bombing approaches like chemotherapy and radiation treatments, cutting-edge cancer cures are looking more towards a surgical strike, tailored to shutting down the mutations that are driving growth. And the secret weapon in that fight might just be a well-known Jeopardy contestant.
If you're one of those people who believe the singularity is imminent, you might want to pack a lunch. Our machines just aren't that smart, says Alva Noë, a philosopher at the University of California at Berkeley. What we call artificial intelligence is actually best described as pseudo-intelligence.
Since defeating the world's greatest Jeopardy players, IBM's Watson has been busy at work in the healthcare industry. But now, the artificially intelligent computer has undergone a fairly substantive upgrade — one that enables it not just to extract information, but to "understand" and reason from it as well.
No longer content with dominating at Jeopardy and serving up gourmet fusion dishes from food trucks, IBM's Watson will soon commit its supercomputer powers to fighting cancer. The goal: See whether Watson can use patient's genomic data to recommend treatments for glioblastoma, a highly aggressive form of brain cancer.
In April 1953, Francis Crick and James Watson published an unassuming one-page research paper with a finding many claimed would "revolutionize biological research": the double helical structure of DNA. But how revolutionary has the discovery been, really?
It all started a couple of years ago when IBM's Watson, the computer voted most likely to destroy us when the technological Singularity strikes, was given access to the Urban Dictionary. In an attempt to help Watson learn slang — and thus be more amenable to conversational language — the machine subsequently picked…
So Watson just pwned humanity, setting a milestone in the history of artificial intelligence. But this trouncing gives us—as we lick our wounds, cry foul, or demand a rematch—the opportunity to ask afresh what it means to be human.