Welcoming Our New Robot Doctor Overlords


The man became a myth and a legend:

Ken Jennings.

He went on Jeopardy and proceeded to kick Alex Trebec in the crotch for 74 straight episodes.  This is possibly what triggered Alex Trebec’s insanity, as shown below.

The year was 2004, Usher’s Yeah! and Hoobastank’s the Reason were playing on the radio.  Iphones were yet to be invented and James Avery was alive (the dad from Fresh Prince (and Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (true story!))).  Also in 2004, Jeopardy started letting contestants stay on the show until they were defeated.  Ken Jennings took full advantage of this by winning for an unprecedented 74 straight shows.

He’s smart, or at least quite good at trivia.

Then came Watson.

Doctor Watson

No.  Not doctor Watson from Sherlock Holmes… This Watson:

IBM Watsom

Watson is the IBM supercomputer that “competed” on Jeopardy against two humans (Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter).  Watson crushed them both.  It was not even close.  This is amazing since Jeopardy has convoluted clues that must be unscrambled, as well as vernacular and pop culture references creating difficulties.  The computer had to be able to figure things out, which it did.

The computer, for lack of a better word, could think.

So now Watson’s creators have set the machine towards medicine.

It can store every textbook, research article, medical records, and thousands of various cases in all aspects of medicine.  It can compare current signs and symptoms to millions of pieces of data (link).  Granted, Jeopardy is a quiz show with a set of rules, but Watson can take natural language and unstructured data to formulate a conclusion.  Ergo, Watson should be the perfect healthcare provider.

I can see the future of medicine now:

A man with arm pain was on the way to his doctor when he saw a sign for a drive through medical clinic.  He pulled into a  drive through which said “Computer Dr. Watson will diagnoses everything for $50.00.”

He pulled up to the first spot where he picked up a urine cup.  He peed in the cup and then pulled up to a large machine with Watson on the side.  He inserted 50 dollars and his urine sample.  The computer whirred and buzzed and in ten seconds a small piece of paper printed out:  

You have mild hypertension, slightly elevated cholesterol, tennis elbow and tendonitis in your wrist.  Don’t play your game on Tusday or Thursday and take ibuprofen and do not do any repetitive motions for one week.

The man was amazed.  He had no clue how the machine could diagnose so much from one sample, but he had to test it.  

So, the man grabbed another urine cup and went home.  He took a urine sample from his daughter, his wife, and from his dog and put all of it in the cup.  Then, just for good measure, the man masturbated into the cup and mixed it all together.  He drove back to the drive through, paid his fifty dollars, and inserted the sample.  The machine buzzed and whirred, and ten seconds later, another piece of paper printed out:

“Your wife is pregnant, your daughter had Chlamydia, your dog has pin-worms, and if you don’t stop jerking off, your tendonitis will never get better!”

Ok, so I totally stole that joke from my father from years ago, but Watson just might be that good.

Unfortunately, even the best artificial intelligence lacks common sense (link here).  According to the article, AI has the common sense of a 4 year old, or about the same as the typical drunk on any Friday night.

But, as a physician, I think it would be wonderful to have the cold, hard, analytic Watson at my back.

Here's a face-shot poorly edited in microsoft paint.  Why yes, I am a wizard with that, thank you.     Me:  Hello ma’am, it says here you have chronic spattergroit?  And that the only thing that works are Vicodin, Oxycontin, and cocaine?

Girl patient     Her:  Yeah.  Also, you gotta know that I used WebMD and also Yahoo answers, so I know what I’m talking about.  The pain is, like, totally bad ‘n stuff.

usoter4 Me:  Right.  Um, well, your vital signs are all completely normal and you won’t stop texting on your phone even long enough to look at me.  In fact, I saw you do a back handspring in the parking lot.

witch      Her: I have, like, a really high pain tolerance.

http---makeagif.com--media-1-20-2014-l6PpFc         Me: Of course.  I’m just going to consult my partner, Dr. Watson here

robotWatson:  Spattergroit is not painful.  Also it is a non-existent disease seen  only in Harry Potter.  More specifically, it was faked by Ron Weasley.  Click my link here

usoter3Me:  Well, there you have it, time for discharge.

Girl patient2Her: But what do I do about my spattergroit?

Usote1Me:  Apparently you wrap a toad’s liver around your throat and stand nude in a barrel of eels under a full moon.  Ironically, it’s a full moon tonight, what are the odds?

robot2Watson: With her complaint profile, odds are 73%.

So there you have it.

Watson the supercomputer will shortly be taking over all of medicine (not really).  I think I might instead just have Ken Jennings on speed dial and tell him to tell my patients that dilaudid is not recommended for the common cold.

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