Supercomputer Watson Gave Erroneous And Unsafe Cancer Treatment Advice For Patients
The technology was touted as a step forward in including AI into the medical field to get patients better results. But documents show the computer's recommendations were flawed, and IBM executives knew about it.
IBM's Watson Recommended 'Unsafe And Incorrect' Cancer Treatments
Internal 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.” (Ross and Swetlitz, 7/25)
In other health technology news —
Prescription Apps Are Gaining Ground — And Drug Makers' Backing
Click Therapeutics, based in New York, announced Monday that Sanofi (SNY) Ventures would be providing $17 million in funding, in exchange for equity in the company and a seat on its board. In April, Pear Therapeutics and Sandoz, a division of Novartis (NVS), established a partnership to commercialize their prescription app for substance abuse, which received FDA clearance in September after going through the agency’s digital health pre-certification program. And Akili Interactive closed a $55 million Series C funding round that included Merck’s (MRK) corporate venture capital fund in May. (Sheridan, 7/25)