IBM Watson is taking research to levels of speed unreachable by humans
IBM announced last week the next step in Watson Discovery Advisor’s cognitive computing capabilities. Now available as a cloud service, it is already showing its potential to help research teams in all sectors accelerate research and discovery processes, by quickly analysing data in millions of scientific papers available in public databases.
To do this, Watson needs to be able to understand nuances in natural language. As IBM proudly explains: “Watson now has the ability to understand the language of chemistry, biology, legal and intellectual property, giving scientists the ability to make connections with data that others don’t see, which can lead to rapid breakthrough in discoveries”.
So Watson is now able to process in hours what humans would need days to read and analyse, reducing the time to test hypotheses and formulate conclusions. Dr. Olivier Lichtarge from the Baylor College of Medicine is working on the p53 protein. He asserts: “It could take me nearly 38 years to completely understand all of the research already available today on this protein. Watson has demonstrated the potential to accelerate the rate and the quality of breakthrough discoveries.”
Researchers and scientists from academic, pharmaceutical and other commercial research centres have started using Watson to boost R&D, and gain significant competitive advantage. Considering it takes on average 10 to 15 between initial research and a drug coming into practice, such tool has the potential to massively reduce costs and significantly improve the discovery process. As Mike Rhodin, senior vice president of IBM Watson Group puts it: “We’re entering an extraordinary age of data-driven discovery.”