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IBM Watson Supercomputer Suggested ‘Unsafe and Incorrect’ Cancer Treatments

IBM promoted its Watson supercomputer to hospitals and physicians caring for cancer patients despite having identified “multiple examples of unsafe and incorrect treatment recommendations” that were given by the highly touted system. Internal documents obtained by STAT News show the company’s Watson supercomputer repeatedly gave erroneous cancer-treatment advice. IBM executives claimed Watson’s advice was based on data from real patients, and that it had won praise from doctors around the world, but STAT reports the machine was actually filled with cases of hypothetical patients. “This product is a piece of shit,” one doctor at Jupiter Hospital in Florida told IBM executives, according to the documents. “We bought it for marketing and with hopes that you would achieve the vision. We can’t use it for most cases.” There’s no suggestion actual patients were harmed. IBM defended its Watson for Oncology software, saying in a statement to STAT: “We have learned and improved Watson Health based on continuous feedback from clients, new scientific evidence, and new cancers and treatment alternatives.”