Victory in hand, IBM's Watson heads to medical school

Supercomputer to work on health care problems

What’s a supercomputer to do after it beats two of the best human minds at trivia game? It’s enrolls in medical school, of course.

IBM Corp.’s Watson, which won a three-day "Jeopardy!", tournament this week, will now begin work with Columbia University Medical Center and the University of Maryland Medical School on health care analytics research, IBM announced today.

IBM and Nuance Communications Inc. are partnering on the research project that will focus on combining IBM’s Deep Question Answering, Natural Language Processing, and Machine Learning capabilities with Nuance’s speech recognition and Clinical Language Understanding solutions.

The goal is to develop a commercial offering in the next 18 to 24 months that will exploit Watson’s capabilities to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of patients.

The medical schools will contribute their expertise and research to the collaborative effort. For example, physicians at Columbia University are helping identify critical issues in the practice of medicine where the Watson technology may be able to contribute, and physicians at the University of Maryland are working to identify the best way that a technology like Watson could interact with medical practitioners to provide the maximum assistance, IBM said in a statement.

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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