A super computer is distilling data to do it all; from creating the perfect blend of rum to fighting cancer.
What should rum taste like? According to IBM’s Watson, the world’s most intelligent super computer, it tastes like a day at the beach.
By analyzing the social media postings of over 15 million vacationers and over 5,000 rum recipes, Watson paired travelers’ top cited positive emotions to specific flavors, thus creating the world’s first data-distilled rum.
“For example, Watson picked out that cask-aged rums often tasted exciting and it already knew that excitement is a key ingredient in holidays – so the final recipe was for aged rum,” said Joe Harrod, a data analyst and Watson AI expert.
Holiday Spirit, the resulting rum produced by Virgin, matched the emotion “happy” to vanilla, “excited” to sugarcane, “curious” to cinnamon, “adventurous” to all spice and “relaxed” to coconut.
“It was my first time collaborating with a super computer to create a distinct blend, so we ensured a high level of quality control to deliver a premium palate experience,” said Ian Burrell, a global rum ambassador who oversaw that Watson’s results computed with the taste. “Tough job but someone has to do it.”
The engineers at IBM aren’t the only ones to see the value in mixing technology and alcohol. Verve Wine encourages its customers to visit its website or recently opened Manhattan store to answer a number of questions concerning wine preference. The store then uses a computer to analyze the results and make customer recommendations.
“The website will be human-driven as much as it will be algorithm driven,” said Verve spokesperson, Kalei Talwar.
While Watson’s aim to produce the world’s most palate pleasing rum is certainly ambitious, it falls far short of its other aspiration; discovering the cure for cancer.
“It was my first time collaborating with a super computer to create a distinct blend, so we ensured a high level of quality control to deliver a premium palate experience.”
Ian Burrell – global rum ambassador
Watson Uses Technology to Fight Cancer
While moonlighting as a mixologist, Watson, built by IBM to simulate the human thought process, is also working with The Cambridge Company and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT to study drug-resistant cancers.
The Broad Institute is providing Watson with the data it has complied from 10,000 patients who have agreed to have their cancers and DNA genetically sequenced. Watson will then analyze and interpret this data, reasoning and providing insight in an effort to anticipate cancer’s next move.
“What if you could actually test somebody at the very beginning of their cancer journey and understand that path – the chess moves that the cancer was going to make?” said Kathy McGroddy-Goetz, vice president of Partnerships & Solutions for IBM’s Watson health division.
“Perhaps you would then start the treatment regimen a little bit different,” she said. “You might stay a few steps ahead of what the cancer’s gonna try to do. You might be able to detect what’s gonna happen next and switch them to the appropriate regimen.”
Every year in the United States, 1.5 million people are diagnosed with cancer. Roughly 60 percent of those individuals risk having their cancer become drug-resistant. IBM’s goal is for Watson to prevent that.
“If someone had said that five years ago, I would [have said] that was wildly optimistic,” said Isaac Kohane, a professor of biomedical informatics at Harvard Medical School. “However, what we have seen in the revolution — that is only begun — we’ve seen so many impressive gains, that I am actually optimistic. I don’t know when that will come to fruition. But if someone said they thought it would happen within 10 years, I would say that’s plausible.”
“What if you could actually test somebody at the very beginning of their cancer journey and understand that path – the chess moves that the cancer was going to make?”
Kathy McGroddy-Goetz – vice president of Partnerships & Solutions for IBM’s Watson health division
US Hospital First to Deploy Watson Oncology
In addition to assisting with drug-resistant cancer research, Watson is also being deployed on the front lines at Jupiter Medical Center in Florida in an effort to help physicians provide cutting edge cancer care.
Trained by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Watson will help doctors at the facility make critical clinical decisions on how to treat cancer patients. Currently, Watson is assisting with treatment plans for breast, lung, colorectal, cervical, ovarian and gastric cancers, and there are plans to train the super computer on nine additional cancers this year, according to IBM.
“It (Watson) basically looks at the world’s literature, all of the information from textbooks, from journals; it synthesizes that information and helps an oncologist make a decision on the best treatment plan for a patient,” said Dr. Abraham Schwartzberg, the Chief of Oncology at Jupiter Medical Center. “It’s a great powerful tool that needs to expand its use.”
As it becomes more common for computers to analyze, interpret and store our personal data (from our taste in wine, to our social security numbers and our entire DNA sequences) true data security will only become more critical.
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