AO: This quote (see copy-pasted below) states that IBM (Research) believed that "many of the hardest problems in our world today, particularly in Africa, are problems of information." The speaker then goes on to articulate that there are not enough skilled personnel (doctors in his healthcare example) to serve the population of the continent. His supposed solution is that "Lucy" (their computing server) will just serve up information to other people in these facilities (he says midwives several times) and then those people will know what to do with that information and that will solve the problem. It is an incredibly naive and paternalistic perspective that reveals a lack of real understanding of the complexity of the issues on the ground and the long histories that have shaped the current issues. It also reveals a lack of understanding of what information is important and needed. Little of the information that may actual be helpful is currently even available online... a technical solution will not help with that and may in fact exacerbate the issue. How can a computer be expected to offer insight on something that has little to no information or "data" online? The speaker also (obviously) fails to articulate the real risks of misdiagnosis. Why are doctors in the US so adverse to patients coming in with "I found this on WebMD" and meanwhile IBM is selling exactly this to "Africa" under the guise that there are not enough well-trained doctors?
Quote from transcript:
"...it was less than a year ago, in this auditorium, IBM announced that we were going to bring the biggest most comprehensive computer system and Watson, the Watson technology, which you'll hear about some more in a minute [inaudible]. We were going to bring that to Africa. Why would we bring that to Africa? We had a strong belief that many of the hardest problems in our world today, particularly in Africa, are problems of information [italics added], for example, problems of health care, we know that worldwide, about half of spending alone in health care, 40 or 50% is wasted. Why is it wasted? It's wasted on incorrect treatments, or treatments that don't work. Ok? In Africa, and the problem with healthcare, we have a problem of far insufficient number of trained physicians but we have many other people that can deliver care, ranging from a trained trained medical personnel and midwives, even family members, even the individuals themselves can understand about what they have what they should do, if they're feeling ill. So this is all about information. It's not entirely about information, of course, molecules are important, drugs, pharmaceuticals, understanding the mechanisms of diseases are very important. And information has a huge role to play. So what we'll be doing with Lucy. We will build and our goal is to build here in Kenya to serve all of Africa, a cognitive hub."