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The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age by Robert Wachter

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Chapter 10David and Goliath

There is a science in what we do, yes, but also habit, intuition, and sometimes plain old guessing.

—Atul Gawande, Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science

When IBM announced that Watson’s first post-Jeopardy focus would be healthcare, the media immediately ran with the Man Versus Machine meme, dubbing the computer “Dr. Watson.” “Meet Dr. Watson: Jeopardy Winning Supercomputer Heads into Healthcare,” proclaimed one headline. “Paging Dr. Watson: IBM’s Medical Advisor for the Future,” read another.

IBMers immediately steered clear of the “Dr. Watson” narrative, with its implied cockiness and gauntlet throwing. Paul Grundy, IBM’s global director of healthcare transformation, told me: “Certainly none of ...

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