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The Future Is Here

Source | : By Rajeev Dubey 

Manipal Hospital’s ‘Tumour Board’ has a panel of qualified oncologists from radiation, medical and surgical streams. Since January, 2017, ‘Watson’-IBM’s artificial intelligence and deep learning framework-has had the honour to occupy one of the seats on the board. Even as specialists evaluate a case, Watson presents its own findings, along with recommended line of treatment. It evaluates the 130-140 parameters of the patient fed into its system against tens of thousands of cases its already been trained on.

Doctors can vary their treatment, or can query Watson live. The doctor is still the boss, though. “Watson is part of decision making process across our seven hospitals for cancer patients,” says Dr Ajay Bakshi, MD & CEO, Manipal Hospitals. Manipal evaluated the impact on two fronts: 600-odd research cases of past patients and clinical cases under treatment. Among past patients, 85 per cent of Watson’s recommendations were identical to the treatment given by Manipal’s doctor. “In another 8-9 per cent, they found Watson recommendations useful and might have considered that option as well,” says Bakshi. Among clinical cases, over 1,000 patients are currently signed up at Manipal to be evaluated by Watson and get recommendations for free. “When you work with Watson, you start with a base level of capability it already has,” says IBM India’s Chief Digital Officer, Nipun Mehrotra.

Welcome to India’s tryst with artificial intelligence (AI)-small steps for technology but a giant leap for businesses. Start-ups in particular remain the most enthusiastic adopters. An estimated 200-300 startups have built business models around AI since large tech firms starting sharing their tools and platform two years ago. “But the number of start-ups is about 5,000. That number also needs to go to 80-90 per cent,” says IBM’s Mehrotra. Mid-sized firms have tried gingerly but big corporates are circumspect. They remain laggards, passing off chatbots, basic automation and big data analytics as AI. It is not.

AI, by definition, is human-like intelligence in machines. An AI machine must pass the ‘Turing’ test whose origin dates back to 1951 when Alan Turing published a paper proposing ‘The Imitation Game’ test of machine intelligence. Simply, it means a human interacting with a machine shouldn’t be able to figure out whether it’s a human or a machine at the other end. That stage of machine intelligence is a three-stage evolution curve. First, in the Smart Stage, machines will take over human actions as robots and software bots already do. Most of AI of today exists in this stage. Next-in the Cognitive Stage-autonomous products and services such as self-driving vehicles will be the norm, though machines will work within the perimeter of expertise. Finally, there’s Adaptive AI-a human-like intelligence and learning capability-where machines will exhibit human being’s ability to watch, listen, understand, learn, build new capabilities and take decisions on the go.

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