Watson for Oncology isn’t an AI that fights cancer, it’s an unproven mechanical turk that represents the guesses of a small group of doctors

The doctors who use the service assume that it’s a data-driven AI that’s using data from participating hospitals to create massive data-sets of cancer treatments and outcomes and refine its inferences. That’s how IBM advertises it. But that’s not how it works.

In reality, Watson for Oncology is a “mechanical turk” — a human-driven engine masquerading as an artificial intelligence. The way it actually works is by convening a small panel of cancer experts from Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital, who come up with recommendations for specific patient profiles. These recommendations represent the best guesses of these experts, supported by medical literature and personal experience.

IBM has never allowed an independent study of Watson for Oncology. No followup is done to evaluate whether its recommendations help patients.

There are several problems with this approach. First, there is the deceptive marketing of Watson for Oncology to doctors and patients, who believe they are getting a global, data-driven, empirical recommendation, as opposed to the subjective judgment of a small panel of experts.

see more at https://boingboing.net/2017/11/13/little-man-behind-the-curtain.html

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