How should IBM's Jeopardy-winning Watson be regulated?

IBM's artificial intelligence tool Watson is an expert at Jeopardy, but it can't answer the question as to whether the technology should be regulated as a medical device. That decision rests with Congress and the FDA, or perhaps lobbyists. IBM spent $5 million in lobbying last year in an attempt to ensure the computer's medical applications receive little regulatory scrutiny. The company has an ally in Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), who is spearheading the 21st Century Cures initiative in the House, which just revealed its plans to overhaul regulation of drugs and devices. Under Upton's proposed bill, clinical decision support tools like Watson would be deemed "health software" and avoid regulation. Another category of products dubbed "clinical software" would also face less regulation from the FDA. With the Republicans in charge of Congress, items coming out of the 21st Century Cures initiative have a decent chance of making it to President Obama's desk. Technology companies like IBM, Apple ($AAPL) and Google ($GOOG)--not to mention traditional devicemakers--have a lot at stake in the initiative's implementation. Story

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