Week 6 of Girls Who Code: Artificial Intelligence and Human Expertise at Watson Health

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Week 6 of the Girls Who Code summer-immersion program at Akamai featured a field trip to IBM’s Watson Health, where the girls learned about the concept of “cognitive computing,” and how this technology is being used by IBM to help doctors help their patients. The girls met some of the women at IBM who are making this technology a reality.

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The girls learned about Watson’s artificial intelligence engine, which “learns” by ingesting enormous amounts of data curated by analysts. The data is clustered based on similarity metrics, and incorporates natural-language processing, image processing, genomics data, and health-records data that has been de-identified (disassociated with a particular patient, to protect identity). The Watson Health presenters showed the girls a scenario in which a doctor is helping a patient with cancer to determine the best course of treatment.

They pointed out that while machine learning/artificial intelligence can be an extremely useful tool in scenarios like this, human expertise remains critical to success. Another key takeaway for the girls was the strong presence of extremely capable women working on this cutting-edge technology, from cognitive algorithm development through user-interface design – a tie-in to the girls’ work last week on user experience and storyboarding techniques.

Meanwhile this week, the girls continued to work on their final projects, which we are all super excited to learn more about next week at Graduation!

For more information about Watson Health and how it works, check out this short video.

Stay tuned for next week’s post, where we’ll cover the final week of the program.

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