IBM's Watson Computer Wins on Jeopardy!
In February IBM's Watson capitalized on its advanced natural language–processing, information retrieval and machine-learning capabilities to soundly defeat two highly accomplished Jeopardy! champions—Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter—at their own game.
Although some pundits have dismissed the event as a stunt, Watson's abilities should prove useful outside of game shows. In 2012 look for Watson to begin applying its advanced analytics skills in the health care industry to improve patient diagnosis and treatment. Health insurance provider WellPoint, Inc., is working with IBM to develop software for Watson that will let physicians coordinate medical data based on specific patient needs as well as help identify the most likely diagnosis and treatment options in complex cases.
As far as conversing with computers, most people will be able to relate to the Siri voice-activated navigator on Apple's iPhone 4S this year before they get a chance to interact with anything as sophisticated as Watson. At least the conversation has begun.—Larry Greenemeier
Image of the Watson computer courtesy of IBM
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