IBM’s Watson recommended ‘unsafe and incorrect’ cancer treatments
Horizon 3: FRONTIER save


nternal IBM documents show that its Watson supercomputer often spit out erroneous cancer treatment advice and that company medical specialists and customers identified “multiple examples of unsafe and incorrect treatment recommendations” as IBM was promoting the product to hospitals and physicians around the world.

The documents — slide decks presented last summer by IBM Watson Health’s deputy chief health officer — largely blame the problems on the training of Watson by IBM engineers and doctors at the renowned Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The software was drilled with a small number of “synthetic” cancer cases, or hypothetical patients, rather than real patient data. Recommendations were based on the expertise of a few specialists for each cancer type, the documents say, instead of “guidelines or evidence.”


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