IBM’s Retreat From Watson Highlights Broader AI Struggles in Health – The Wall Street Journal
Ten years ago, International Business Machine Corp.’s artificial intelligence system Watson bested humans at the quiz show “Jeopardy!”
The feat was supposed to herald a shift in the way machines served up answers to questions big and small, opening up new revenue streams for Big Blue specifically and Big Tech more generally. A key target: healthcare, a trillion-dollar industry many say is saddled with inefficiencies that some tech advocates say AI could cure.
A decade later, reality has fallen short of that promise. IBM is now exploring the sale of Watson Health, a unit whose marquee product was supposed to help doctors diagnose and cure cancer.
IBM spent several billion dollars on acquisitions to build up Watson. Former senior IBM executive John Kelly once touted the initiative as a “bet the ranch” move. It didn’t live up to the hype. Watson Health has struggled for market share in the U.S. and abroad and currently isn’t profitable.