Watson and Will

Watson, a computer with advanced linguistic and deductive abilities and plenty of horsepower developed by IBM, defeated a couple of Jeopardy champions more than a few weeks ago in a much-publicized match. Being the geek that I am I was interested in this sideshow as well as the long-term use for a machine like Watson in the "real world". I was excited to hear that it would be put to the test in the medical arena to digest symptoms of patients and to attempt to diagnose their reported ailments. The frustrating reality for a lot of patients when trying to track down what might be wrong with them is that there is usually someone, somewhere who has run into this type of thing before and could offer a good diagnosis or an effective treatment. However, as advanced as we are and as complicated a machine the body is, the knowledge can still be somewhat diffuse and hard to come by.

We had a situation when Will was a young boy where he was hypoglycemic. It took the doctors here a while to determine what was wrong with him as his symptoms were very much like a child with meningitis. Early tests ruled this out and we were left with a bit of a mystery. The doctors in the hospital struggled for a couple of days to determine what was wrong. It was not until a specialist, who just happened to be on the premises, took a look at Will's tests and determined that he had an intolerance to fasting which is commonly referred to as ketotic hypoglycemia. I often wonder, if God hadn't have had that specialist there, if we would have ever figured out what was wrong with him and what we could do to prevent future episodes.

So the promise of a machine like Watson is very personal to our family. I hope and pray that it will help make medical knowledge more readily available to doctors as they diagnose and treat patients. I would love to see the next child with a condition like Will's successfully diagnosed even in the remotest parts of the world. Thank you God for the sciences as they are, by your grace, slowly making us more effective stewards of this world. 


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