Talk:1619: Watson Medical Algorithm

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Build environment is still insane since comic #371. 162.158.2.139 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

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I'm trying to picture Baymax using this algorithm. -- International Space Station (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

"OK, who swapped out Baymax's programming card with a Doomba AI?" VectorLightning (talk) 08:02, 21 December 2015 (UTC)
I hope it's ok that I deleted the part of the explanation saying that Watson's behaviour in this comic is comparable to Baymax, since it's really... not. :P Berets (talk) 22:45, 1 August 2017 (UTC)

Well, at least the autoconfig isn't as threatening as #416. 108.162.245.179 07:00, 21 December 2015 (UTC)

I suspect that the extra limbs should be removed when there are 100+ and Vitamin D levels checked when the nmbr of limbs is in an acceptable range... does IBM use a ticketing system? 162.158.91.194 08:39, 21 December 2015 (UTC)

Unfortunately the algorithm as shown in the cartoon has the conditions for those two steps exactly the other way around, making even less sense medically. --Svenman (talk) 14:30, 21 December 2015 (UTC)

It seems a normal patient would end up mostly unscathed and in an infinite loop in the lower right corner. Benjaminikuta (talk) 09:01, 21 December 2015 (UTC)

Uhm no. You would normally have an oxygen level above 50% of what is expected. (It should be close to 100% if I understand this correctly, which I may not...). This means you have had your skeleton removed. If you survived this you are squeezed until fluid comes out. (Probably not necessary after the skelerectomy). But then you end up in the lower right corner. Of course you can also get there after just getting an oxygen injection, but only directly if you are not comforted when the program tries. If you where comforted you will lose some limbs. And then end up in the lower right corner. No matter what if you are still OK (could be possible) when reaching here, you will be asked about your pain level. And even if you start by saying 0-8 many many times, getting as many scalp massages, you will just get the same question, until you say 10 then your eyes will be removed. But no matter what, if you are asked such a stupid question enough times you will surely at some point say something else than 0-10, and then you will die, as this answer will take you down the last path of the program (and only exit of the cycle according the to glitch mentioned in the title text), and this will end up with the program performing an autopsy on you, thus cutting you up and removing all organs etc. So no you will not be able to go unscathed infinitely, and even if you kept saying 0-8 you would eventually die from thirst. ;) --Kynde (talk) 09:24, 21 December 2015 (UTC)
Yes, normal oxygen saturation is 98-100% in air. If it drops below 95% you will be in trouble, if it drops below 85% you're likely dead. Kev (talk) 09:54, 21 December 2015 (UTC)
Actually you can go a lot lower than 85% and still recover. You lose consciousness at about 55% on average, so you could dip below 50% for maybe a minute and still recover with appropriate treatment. It is unclear exactly what "inject oxygen" means, it could mean intubate and actively ventilate with oxygen (appropriate) or it might mean use a syringe & needle to literally inject an oxygen embolus (which would do more harm than good). It could even mean a blood transfusion, because there is oxygen carried by the red blood cells (appropriate). Martin (talk) 22:28, 21 December 2015 (UTC)

This might also partially be a reference to machine learning, which Watson apparently uses: badly designed ML systems often build models which produce the expected results for the training data, but do something unexpected or wrong with real data. See [1]. That said ... 'dissect doctor for parts' doesn't seem like a reasonable response to any training input ;) 162.158.39.208 10:41, 21 December 2015 (UTC)

The noted "unrelated actions" aren't all entirely unrelated. The coughing blood one is interpreting backwards (so "is patient not coughing up blood because the patient is not here to do so?"), the vitamin D one is somewhat logical (vit D is part of the chain that converts calcium to bone, low vit D can cause bone loss, but high vit D is basically harmless), and the green fluid is slightly sane but too vague (logic appears to be that green fluid indicates severely infected and/or necrotic tissue, for which cauterizing might be a valid treatment step in extreme situations). Weirdly specific might be a better header? 141.101.106.197 11:57, 21 December 2015 (UTC)

So what happens if the skeleton has exactly the right number of bones? --162.158.153.71 12:32, 21 December 2015 (UTC)

Indeed this case is not covered, thus making the algorithm faulty even on an abstract logical level. --Svenman (talk) 14:33, 21 December 2015 (UTC)
What is the "right" number anyway? The number of bones in a normal human is not constant: it changes from 270 at birth to 206 as an adult. Martin (talk) 22:35, 21 December 2015 (UTC)
Human_skeleton : "It is composed of 270 bones at birth – this total decreases to 206 bones by adulthood after some bones have fused together" 162.158.255.46 22:32, 22 December 2015 (UTC)

the Request organ donation/Remove organs part reminds me of Live Organ Transplants segment in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life. --valepert (talk) 12:53, 21 December 2015 (UTC)

100 could be a reference to 4 in binary (4+ limbs / less than 4 limbs) 141.101.99.39 12:59, 21 December 2015 (UTC)

I believe you're correct. Mikemk (talk) 15:17, 21 December 2015 (UTC)
The binary explanation does make more sense than a human centipede. Although, given the general grossness of the comic, I'm not going to completely rule out the human centipede idea. Martin (talk) 22:40, 21 December 2015 (UTC)


I think GlaDOS is a descendent from this Watson. Mikemk (talk) 15:17, 21 December 2015 (UTC)


The part about squeezing and looking for the color of the ooze seems to reference Humorism. The colors match the four humors. 162.158.91.188 15:31, 21 December 2015 (UTC)

No it does not match -- the colors would be red-black-yellow-blue (not green) -- the blue is for water like in this diagram --162.158.255.46 14:55, 24 December 2015 (UTC)
The red-black-yellow-green matches the Rastafarian colors 162.158.255.46 15:43, 24 December 2015 (UTC)

I'm surprised he didn't make a Dr Watson joke/reference.--R0hrshach (talk) 17:33, 21 December 2015 (UTC)

This algorithm certainly does not exit without the death of the patient, however, such a death can result from old age as long as the patient can make it to the bottom right infinite loop and continuously reports a number from 0-9 for pain. It IS possible to make it to that loop alive. Extremely low blood oxygen levels have been recorded in healthy Everest climbers, but the article I read gave the results in kilopascals, not in % so I don't know how that converts. However, repeatedly reporting a pain level of 0-8 would result in continuous scalp massages, which may actually be considered pleasant. Kashim (talk) 20:11, 21 December 2015 (UTC)

I get the feeling that even if people can survive at low oxygen levels at a decent level for a time, it's not going to be either healthy or prolonged. -Pennpenn 108.162.250.162 04:36, 23 December 2015 (UTC)
I think I found a major fault in the diagram -- The algo will loop indefinitely removing eyes with laser surgery as long as the pain-level is 10 -- since most people only have two eyes, the algo may seg-fault after the second eye is removed and the paitent may leave alive at that point 162.158.255.46 15:48, 24 December 2015 (UTC)

I think this may be the least undesirable path through the flowchart: START > Draw blood (enough to lower oxygen saturation to 49%) > Record name > Measure height and weight > Measured height/weight happens to match standard chart exactly > No surgery needed > Not coughing up blood > Still here > Record pulse rate > No screaming (unconscious due to low O2 saturation) > O2 saturation below 50% > Inject oxygen > Comforting succesful > Review medical history > Skin grafts > Fewer than 100 limbs > Good vitamin D > Check build environment > Rinse with saline > Phone battery level is high > Sync photos > General anesthesia > Discharge Martin (talk) 22:51, 21 December 2015 (UTC)

Nope, that path doesn't work. First, injecting oxygen may do more harm than good, as previously mentioned. Second, you'll be unconscious, so comforting will be unsuccessful. Third, having fewer than 100 limbs actually leads to the path where some are removed (possibly an error in the chart?). Fourth, due to the bug, discharge leads to hunting you down and capturing you again. 108.162.249.161 01:32, 22 December 2015 (UTC)
First, it may or it may not... I'm hoping not! (see above for discussion of possible ways to "inject" oxygen) Second, I'll be conscious again because my oxygen saturation has now been restored, so comforting is possible. Third, please look at the updated version of the flowchart, fewer than 100 leads to measuring Vitamin D. Fourth, there is no pathway shown from discharge to hunting down and capturing: I assume that START is admission to the hospital, therefore once discharged from hospital I have escaped Watson's clutches. Martin (talk) 04:04, 22 December 2015 (UTC)
Yes, Randall fixed the bone count decision, but perhaps you missed the 'minor glitch' described in the mouseover text... 108.162.249.161 04:50, 22 December 2015 (UTC)
Dammit. Yes I missed that. I have doomed myself to infinite skin grafts. The glitch means the only end point is autopsy. Which is less undesirable, infinite skin grafts or autopsy? Martin (talk) 05:22, 22 December 2015 (UTC)
No luck on getting infinite skin grafts, I'm afraid. Watson won't draw blood again, so you won't be able to keep failing the oxygen saturation test. Besides, keeping oxygen perpetually under 50% would be fatal in itself. Maybe that's the best way to go: blacking out from oxygen deprivation. 108.162.249.161 23:13, 22 December 2015 (UTC)

ALERT!!! The comic has been updated since this explanation was first posted: the decisions for number of limbs have been swapped. Martin (talk) 04:14, 22 December 2015 (UTC)

I wonder whether Randall took some inspiration from Buttersafe? 108.162.249.161 04:48, 22 December 2015 (UTC)

entirely possible, Randall does list Buttersafe as a web comic he enjoys. Martin (talk) 05:17, 22 December 2015 (UTC)

Man I liked the original limb count decision better.... Schiffy (Speak to me|What I've done) 04:59, 22 December 2015 (UTC)

Yes, there was a delicious craziness about it. Martin (talk) 05:12, 22 December 2015 (UTC)
Ah, so it did change. (SFAICT, usually when the comic changes between publication and the present, the changes are noted somewhere in the explanation. It seems the explanation has been made to match the current version but doesn't have any reference to the original.) IMO, also, the original was funnier for the 'bad AI' (i.e. either evil or just incompetent) quality to that section. 162.158.152.227 09:52, 23 December 2015 (UTC)

Another infinite loop is in the upper right; if the patient's phone battery is low, defibrillate, then check phone battery condition again. Since defibrillating the patient is not going to improve teh patient's phone battery charge level, this will repeat infinitely, unless the battery is being charged by some external force (or, perhaps, by the electric charge from the defibrillator?) Swordsmith (talk) 12:18, 22 December 2015 (UTC)

I can't help feeling some of the information on this page are meant as jokes, like "disect the doctor for parts" being "may be considered ethically dubious". Is there someone who can clarify these? 162.158.72.191 19:49, 22 December 2015 (UTC)

I believe the author of the information is giving the robot the benefit of the doubt. After all, some of these may very well be acceptable under the right circumstances, and you know what they say about those who assume! 108.162.221.11 02:05, 4 February 2016 (UTC)

What could happen if I rate my pain level as 10 three times? There is no more eye left to remove, so would the algorithm crash? 162.158.83.18 00:17, 18 May 2016 (UTC)

Squeezing the patient again if yellow liquid comes out until another color comes out could be popping a pimple or other pustule until it instead starts bleeding (if red is what then comes out). 108.162.215.7 22:59, 23 May 2016 (UTC)

"comforting unsuccesful" Dammit, Randall, how did you mess that up? And how did no one else spot that? 162.158.79.71 02:52, 17 September 2017 (UTC)