November 01, 2017

AI and Medicine : How Fast Will Adaptation Occur?

By Matthew Henshon

Artificial intelligence (AI) burst onto the popular scene in 2011, when IBM’s Watson defeated two human champions (including all-time leader Ken Jennings) in a nationally televised two-part exhibition of Jeopardy!, the TV game show.1 A previous Watson iteration (Deep Blue) had defeated then world champion Garry Kasparov in chess in 1997, but the game of chess perhaps seemed a simpler task for machines: a defined board, and 16 pieces on each side.2 In contrast, the range of Jeopardy! clues (remember, as Alex Trebek reminds viewers regularly, to “phrase your response in the form of a question”) is seemingly limitless, and the clues are often in the form of puns or slang, so a chess move like “rook to D1” in comparison seems simple.

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