I was asked to write an op-ed for the Washington Post on how Watson (the computer that won on Jeopardy!) could impact medicine. I think it could eventually be quite transformative.
Mark Lewis, a computer science professor at Trinity University, thinks I might be too conservative in my projections for Watson’s future impact on medicine.
My feeling has been that in areas like medicine and self-driving cars/trucks the technology may run ahead of social acceptance. Also there are some powerful groups that might lobby hard to slow progress (AMA, Teamsters, etc.).
How long will it be, for example, before society would trust a machine to independently prescribe drugs? (Possible future Kindle bestseller: How to Get Watson to Give You Vicoden: The Insider’s Guide). But, then again, which would be harder: gaming a smart computer to get a prescription, or just finding a doctor that will prescribe on demand?
I’ve heard from a number of people who, like Mark, think things are likely to progress faster than we might expect in these areas. Let us know what you think in comments.