Daily review: laurels and darts
I.B.M.’s supercomputer Watson was famous last spring for appearing on Jeopardy and besting its human competition. Now, however, Watson’s sights have been shifted from fun and games to the real world — namely, health care. WellPoint Inc. will be using Watson’s incredible speed and extensive database to help make diagnoses and assign possible treatments to patients. We never thought Watson’s destiny would be health care. Sure, we heard all the vague talk of “technological progress” that surrounded his debut, but the lack of specificity in such discourse made it difficult for us to take any of it to heart. And, admittedly, we were a little angry with Watson when he sent Ken Jennings packing. All of that enmity and uncertainty is gone now that we’ve seen Watson’s technology used in a real-life role, especially one as important as aiding doctors in diagnosing and treating patients. We give I.B.M. and WellPoint Inc. laurels for working together to make Watson a real resource for the good of mankind.
Someone, at some point in your life, probably told you “watching too much TV rots your brain.” While you may have laughed that off at the time, new evidence suggests that bit of folk wisdom is actually true. In a study conducted on 60 children, results found that children who were made to watch “SpongeBob SquarePants” before taking a mental function test did worse on the tests than those who did not watch the popular children’s television show. Does this mean “SpongeBob” should be condemned and removed from the air? Of course not. Parents and guardians need to monitor their children’s television-watching — something they should have been doing all along. Kids shouldn’t be parked in front of the television all day, regardless of what it is they’re watching. We admire the researchers responsible for this study, but we question just how necessary or valid the study is. That’s why we give the study a dart. There are better things to be researching.