A Small Reminder: Finding Accurate, Actionable Information Is More Than Marketing Hoo-hah

January 14, 2022

Information retrieval ignites many interesting discussions. In our global environment, factionalism is the soup du jour. Talking about search can triggering dysphagia if a foot is consumed or apoplexy if one’s emotions go ballistic.

To keep search chatter in balance, I recommend “Scoop: IBM Tries to Sell Watson Health Again.” The write up does an non-job of romping through the craziness of IBM Watson and assorted medical windmills. There is one telling passage in the write up which I wish to highlight; to wit:

Big Blue wants out of health care, after spending billions to stake its claim, just as rival Oracle is moving big into the sector via its $28 billion bet for Cerner.

What’s up with IBM Watson in general and health care in particular? Several observations from my snowy redoubt in rural Kentucky, a state which has failed to emulate the business success of Tennessee. Is it Mitch? I don’t know.

Now my thoughts:

  1. Answering questions about scientific, technical, and medical questions is less demanding than figuring out what a TikTok message means. Failing in STM is like tripping over a bottle cap in a deserted NFL stadium’s parking lot
  2. Watson and its cognitive assertions requires training. Training is expensive. Google is working hard to convince itself and others to embrace the Snorkelesque approach. Watson’s method is a bit behind the sail boat’s curve in my opinion. Maybe the training race is over and Watson is in dry dock.
  3. The crazy assertions that cancer doctors could work better, faster, and more cheaply with Watson by their side resulted in one major event. The flashy Houston medical center showed Watson where the Exit door was located.

What will happen when a group of money people buy Watson? Lots of meetings, some tax planning, and quite a few telephone calls to college friends. Then a flip.

Will Watson health emerge a winner? IBM missed its chance the first time around. Perhaps the company can team with other health care competitors and craft a revenue winner. Will IBM ring up the Google? Will IBM make a trip to Redmond, home of the OS/2 debacle?

Who knows? Perhaps the company will apply some effort to fixing up its lagging cloud business? Again, who knows? Let’s ask Watson.

Stephen E Arnold, January 14, 2022

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