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It's Early Days for the use of AI in Medicine
Opinion Letter "It's Early Days for the use of AI in Medicine" WSJ Aug 14, 2018
John E. Kelly III, IBM Corporation:
We disagree with your suggestion in "IBM Has a Watson Dilemma” (Exchange, Aug. 11) that IBM has not made enough progress on bringing the benefits of artificial intelligence to health care.It is true that IBM has placed a big bet on health care. We know that AI can make a big difference in solving medical challenges and supporting the work of the health-care industry, and we see an enormous business opportunity.
The first question we asked was, "Can Watson help oncologists make better decisions for their patients?” Repeatedly, the answer has proven to be a resounding "yes,” as demonstrated in peer-reviewed research and regular feedback from those using these tools.
They are now in use at 230 hospitals and health organizations globally and have nearly doubled the number of patients reached in the first six months of the year to 84,000. We also are having success in life sciences, working with payers, providers, governments and in medical imaging. At the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting, Mayo Clinic doctors reported that Watson boosted enrollment in breast-cancer clinical trials by 80%.
An expectation that our efforts should be further along in three years shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what it takes to bring impactful AI to the highly complex health-care industry. Few things of this magnitude would ever be declared close to complete that quickly. IBM has never shied away from grand challenges. We know they don’t happen overnight and aren’t easy. Whether it’s the creation of the world’s first commercial computer, putting man on the moon or more recently, developing the fastest and smartest supercomputer on the planet, we go all in. Our work is only getting started.
John E. Kelly III, Ph.D.
Response from Norman Witkin:
Dr John E Kelly III of IBM may be justly proud of IBM accomplishments in many challenging fields, but creation of the world’s first commercial computer was not one of them. Credit for that goes to an English tea-shop company Lyons, developers of LEO, acronym for Lyons Electronic Office. LEO I started running in London in 1951. Many large companies wanted their own LEO, and in 1954, LEO Computers Ltd was formed to supply LEOs to users such as Ford, Shell, Dunlop, Ever Ready, the Royal Bank of Scotland and some insurance companies, as well as HM Dockyards, HM Customs & Excise and the Inland Revenue. LEO computers were also exported to Australia, South Africa, and Czechoslovakia.
Norman Witkin, Irvine, CA
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