IBM’s Watson Supercomputer Is Becoming The Best Cancer Doctor In The World

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty appeared on stage at Fortune’s Powerful Women conference and shared a few details of what the company’s researchers are currently tinkering with behind closed doors. It has everything to do with fighting cancer by using Watson, the company’s Jeopardy-winning supercomputer.

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has partnered with IBM to see what they can do to put a permanent end to leukemia using Watson’s technologies. Their software is called MD Anderson’s Oncology Expert Advisor, and because Watson is modelled on human thought processing, it can apply medical knowledge in very much the same way a human can.

There are two new builds of Watson coming in the company’s pipeline. Watson 2.0 will be able to see pictures and interpret them — for example it could identify problematic areas of an X-ray. When you consider that Watson is already better at diagnosing cancer than regular human doctors, you realise that there’s huge potential in giving it a set of eyeballs.

Rometty didn’t go into as much detail on Watson 3.0, but she says it’s a computer that will actually be able to debate and reason.

Rometty used the opportunity to (rightfully) boast about IBM’s research work. The company has 3,000 PhDs toiling away on all kinds interesting things. Here’s the relevant portion of her appearance below.