I know this seems like a strange post but, believe me, after you read this you will not only be amazed but also hopeful….at least I am. First, let me share with you some of my personal background. I have been a software engineer for quite a long time and I hold an undergrad in Computer Science. I have been lucky enough to have been exposed to quite a lot of cutting edge software development and technologies. Any how, you might be surprised to know that artificial intelligence and cancer cures are a hot topic. Let me fill you in.
What is Artificial Intelligence
So, I’m gonna keep this real and try to avoid science fiction and speculation to the best of my ability. Computers gaining consciousness and ruling the world is, in my opinion, silly. I do not picture sentient terminator robots in our future. At least that’s what “they” told me to write. 🙂 Still, it makes for a great story.
Let me tell you what I think is NOT fiction. Computerized machines trained to be “experts” on certain “systems” making autonomous decisions better than humans. Here’s what I mean by that. Whereas people are wide and varied in their knowledge and able to adapt to changes in their environment most computers are trained to function in a more narrow scope.
For example, you can have a computer that will help you drive from here to there and make little, if any, mistakes. Yup, that’s a GPS system. Now, picture the driver-less car. A car that not only tells you how to get somewhere but it takes you there. They already exist. It decides when to brake, hit the gas, turn, and even reroute. The current version of these cars allow you to override the automation but, one day that may be a distant memory. This car and the AI (artificial intelligence) system built into it would be an “expert” navigation system and would be able to make better decisions than people, autonomously and quicker. That’s a “common sense” explanation of AI.
Artificial Intelligence and Cancer Cures
I hope you’re ready to have your mind blown….cuz here it comes. 🙂 Did you happen to see the game show Jeopardy when Watson, IBM’s artificial intelligence system, appeared on the show and won hands down? If not, here’s a clip.
I have to say, that was impressive and here’s why. For Watson to win it had to understand human language and search it’s giant database (memory) for the answer that applied. Not an answer that seemed to apply but, one that applied and made sense to humans. In addition, it learns on it’s own. It puts facts together in a similar way that we put facts together. It associates them. So, it knows that ice cream is a treat and associates it with other treats, and other dairy products, and other things that are vanilla or chocolate or cherry etc. Watson then searches these associations and “connects” them to form it’s answer. Amazing….here’s an article all about it if you’re interested. Read More
Now, as impressive as this is, it is still an example of very narrow functionality. It could do this one thing but it can’t do what your GPS does. Get it? We can do both…and probably at the same time probably while eating the ice cream. Yes, I know, distracted driving. 🙂 This is still great for us because Watson is now being used to help oncologists.
Watson, is using it’s huge natural learning engine to help find cures and treatments for cancer. Isn’t that great! Now, here’s more good news. There’s another system out there with the same goals.
The system, called CanSAR, is the biggest disease database of its kind anywhere in the world and condenses more data than would be generated by 1 million years of use of the Hubble space telescope. Read More
Here’s another video that you should enjoy. Scientists and computer programmers have found a way to use computer games to fight cancer. It’s called distributed computing. They take a problem and break it into tiny pieces and then distribute it over a network of computers. This allows each computer to solve a tiny piece of the problem. Now, since the Internet is a giant network of computers, they can use video game consoles (which are computers) and send the completed piece of the problem back to the scientists over the Internet. Watch this!
There’s more good news. What is it? The good news is that my little blog cannot possibly cover the extent of how far science is advancing everyday in this field. Every single day there is more knowledge acquired, more connections made and more computer programmers building better expert systems to help us. Let’s pray that these advanced solutions are quickly approved, used and distributed to our doctors. If I have interested you enough that you might like to find out more on your own then here’s one of my favorite links. http://www.kurzweilai.net
Stay hopeful, have faith and keep fighting,
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