September 12

According to the Associated Press, “IBM’s supercomputer system, best known for trouncing the world’s best ‘Jeopardy!’ players on TV, is being tapped by one of the nation’s largest health insurers to help diagnose medical problems and authorize treatments.  WellPoint Inc., which has 34.2 million members, will integrate Watson’s lightning speed and deep health care database into its existing patient information, helping it choose among treatment options and medicines.”

I have mixed feelings about this development.  We all remember how the HAL 9000 turned against the astronauts in 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Sure, that was science fiction.  But so were artificial satellites when they were envisioned a decade before Sputnik by the master science-fiction writers Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Heinlein.  Computers are marvelous tools.  But good ol’ fashion intuition, by a seasoned physician, is (with current technology) impossible to replicate.

For the full AP article, visit

Photo courtesy AP and IBM