“It was an amazing feat when Watson, IBM’s “cognitive” — listening, “thinking” and learning — computing platform handily beat two Jeopardy grand champions in February 2011” – – Doug Henschen Information Week
Many remember the victory of IBM’s “Watson” computer over the Jeopardy grand champions, but few are aware that Watson is now playing a significant role in the field of medicine. Teaming with such austere institutions as Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center of New York and the Cleveland Clinic, Watson is assisting medical professionals in determining the best course of treatment for individual patients. Because of its vast information storage and retrieving capabilities, along with its “cognitive” — listening, “thinking” and learning” abilities, Watson is able to make treatment decisions based on personal genetic makeup, developing research, historical records, and empirical evidence beyond the capability of any single individual. It portends monumental changes in how patients are diagnosed and given care.
Few among us would object to having the pragmatic analysis of our medical problems based on the facts, science, and historical record provided by a Watson. In fact it is exactly what we want. We are likely to have a better outcome from our treatment.
However, when it comes to running our nation – or the world for that matter – intelligence, empirical evidence, and history are thrown to the wind. Ideologies rule the day, and “please don’t confuse me with facts” could well be our national motto.
“Taxing the wealthy kills jobs,” “runaway government spending,” “job killing regulations,” and “socialism is taking over America” are all examples of ideology trumping truth. The longest period of low unemployment, and the greatest growth of the middle class (from WW2 to the late 1970’s), occurred during a time of high progressive and corporate taxes. Government spending as a percent of GDP remained unchanged from 1970 through 2008. Most legitimate research on environmental, safety, and labor regulations show that the majority of regulations not only make us healthier and safer, but result in net gains in employment, technological advancement, and economic growth.
The belief that socialism (the government takeover of the means of production and distribution) is taking over America, has no supporting evidence. In fact just the opposite is occurring. We are corporatizing government functions at unprecedented rates. Yet these deliberately perpetrated fallacies guide America. If we were to base our medical treatment on as little fact as we tolerate in the governance of our country, we would all live very short lives.
We may wish to think that operating the United States without regard to empirical evidence can carry us on to prosperity, but truth and the laws of physics and nature eventually rule. They don’t care what we believe and are the final arbiter of reality.
We no longer have to tolerate government by ideology, mythology, and fear mongering. Because of advanced computer technology, we can cast aside the destructive, irrational, and self-serving nonsense currently passed off as political debate. Aided by the non-political, non-ideological, pragmatic information processing capabilities of a “Watson,” we can begin the honest, intelligent decision making that can move us forward to peace and prosperity for all.