Could IBM's Watson lead us to a cure for cancer?

It's not just Watson. It's Dr. Watson.

Remember Watson? IBM's supercomputer that broke the game show "Jeopardy"?

It dominated two of the show's top champions. But now one of the world's most famous computers has taken on some new projects.


Image via Atomic Taco/Flickr (altered).

The machine that knows it all has been programmed for a new adversary: cancer.

IBM is collaborating with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York to help revolutionize cancer research and treatment. The hospital is using Watson's analytical super-strength to distill massive amounts of information about cancer and make it available to treatment professionals — all at their fingertips.

GIFs via IBM.

Humans are amazing analytical creatures, but our brains have nothing on a computer that can run 80 trillion operations per second.

"The massive amount of data that we collect is difficult for any one person to analyze. ... Watson's capability to analyze huge volumes of data and reduce it down to critical decision points is absolutely essential to improve on our ability to deliver effective therapies and to actually disseminate that information to the world."
— Dr. Craig Thompson, president and CEO of Memorial Sloan Kettering

Still, as powerful as Watson is, it can't beat cancer without help from us cognitively inferior humans.

Watson kicked ass on "Jeopardy" because humans taught it how to win — by feeding it past questions and answers and training it how to respond.

The same principle applies to Watson's work on cancer, but they're feeding it loads of information about past treatments so it can identify patterns and guide physicians toward the best possible decisions.

As you'll see, the doctors of Memorial Sloan Kettering are just giddy with excitement:

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