How IBM Watson saved the life of a woman dying from cancer, exec says

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty has called health care IBM’s “moonshot.”

IBM has spent years training its super-smart, learning, reasonsing computer service Watson to do things like analyse massive amounts of data to help improve the patient diagnosis.

On stage at Business Insider’s Ignition conference taking place this week in New York, David Kenny, General Manager of IBM Watson, gave one example of how Watson is changing health care.

He told this startling story:

“There’s a 60-year-old woman in Tokyo. She was at the University of Tokyo. She had been diagnosed with leukemia six years ago. She was living, but not healthy. So the University of Tokyo ran her genomic sequence through Watson and it was able to ascertain that they were off by one thing. Actually, she had two strains of leukemia. The did treat her and she is healthy.”

He added, “That’s one example. Statistically, we’re seeing that about one third of the time, Watson is proposing an additional diagnosis.”

Kenny says that what Watson is not just being used to cure cancer, “but to just recommend what you should watch next” and even to recommend “what ad you you should watch next.”

He says the game-changing thing about Watson is its ability to “get to know you personally and know what you need next. It comes from what we learned in medicine.”

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