Watson supercomputer pimped out to insurance industry

My favourite computer in the world (if such a thing exists) is the Watson supercomputer, most famous for his trouncing of Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter on Jeopardy.

There were grand visions of what Watson could be used for. Most recently there were rumours of Watson’s diagnostic capabilities being used in the medical field.

Well, this is one of those good news/bad news situations. Watson is going to be “helping” to diagnose millions of patients. Unfortunately, Watson will be doing it for Wellpoint Inc. health insurance.

Although the spokesperson for Wellpoint said patients don’t need to worry that Watson will be used to help insurers deny benefits.  If a doctor uses a different treatment than Watson, a clinician will still review the case.

Even though this supercomputer is a blessing to the world, you’ll have to excuse me for my lack of excitement over the pimping out of Watson.  It is unproven and too early to be pushed for a critical use.  I have learned that insurance companies are in the sole business of making money (perhaps like many other industries).   In my opinion, Wellpoint’s focus will be on making Watson work for them.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Watson is reprogrammed to respond with “pre-existing condition” or “forms completed incorrectly”. Of all the partners that IBM could have chosen, this is what they chose to do.  It remains to be seen who this will really serve.

Readers:  What do you think of IBM’s choice?  Will Watson help patients or Wellpoint?

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