UWG Graduate Weighs in on IBM’s Watson
Fans of the popular game show, “Jeopardy,” recently got a glimpse of the future when two of the show’s most successful champions went up against IBM’s supercomputer Watson.
Yong Suh, a 2001 graduate of UWG's Honors College and Advanced Academy of Georgia, wrote an opinion piece on the significance of IBM's Watson on Jeopardy.
Watson trounced its opponents: the record-breaking Ken Jennings, who won a consecutive 74 games, and Brad Rutter, who won a cumulative $3,255,102.
The computer system was constructed to do what, so far, was only science fiction: answer queries asked in natural language. Quick timing is key on “Jeopardy,” and Watson had to buzz in fast, be right and confident in its answers to win the $1 million prize.
Yong Suh, one of the University of West Georgia’s own shining stars, weighed in on the machine’s significance in a USA Today opinion piece, “'Watson' could transform medicine,” which ran before the three-day competition aired in February.
Watson’s technology “could radically transform health care delivery within the next decade,” wrote Suh, a 2001 graduate of UWG’s Honors College and Advanced Academy of Georgia.
He is currently pursuing a medical degree at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Doing well on the game show and “diagnosing sick patients have similar prerequisites: a broad fund of knowledge, ability to process subtlety and ambiguity in natural language, efficient time management, and probabilistic assessment of different possibilities,” Suh wrote.
Like the clues on the program “a patient’s symptoms, medical history, physical exam findings and laboratory results present clues that must be synthesized into a differential diagnosis,” he continued.
In the piece, Suh ponders poses provocative questions about the technology:
“What will be the new roles for physicians, nurses, technicians and other health care professionals when the current hierarchy, delineated by varying levels of medical knowledge, is flattened by an intelligent machine? What will be the impact on the practice of humanistic medicine? How will patient outcomes be affected by patient-machine interactions? Who will be held accountable for medical errors that arise from decisions made by a machine?”
The computer giant’s Watson “could play the lead role in solving the toughest medical cases,” he writes.
Suh knows what he’s talking about: he entered UWG when he was 16 and graduated at the top of his class with a B.S. in chemistry. He was one of only four undergraduates in the nation selected to serve as a National Institutes of Health research fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Francis Collins, then director of the Human Genome Project.
He was the only Marshall scholar in UWG’s history. While at Oxford University on the Marshall scholarship he completed two master’s degrees in the time it takes to earn one, graduating with a M.Sc. in research and pharmacology and a MBA. He was only 23.
In addition to working on the Human Genome Project, Suh has worked on Wall Street.
To read Suh’s opinion piece go to: http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/2011-02-09-column09_ST_N.htm.
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