IBM's Watson Getting Real World Job

Winning Jeopardy not enough for super computer.

Monday, Sep 12, 2011  |  Updated 8:58 AM PDT
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IBM's Watson Getting Real World Job

AP

In this undated publicity image released by Jeopardy Productions, Inc., host Alex Trebek, left, poses with contestants Ken Jennings, center, and Brad Rutter and a computer named Watson in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. On Monday, Feb. 14, 2011, "Jeopardy!" will begin airing two matches spread over three days between Jennings, Rutter and Watson, who was developed by IBM scientists. (AP Photo/Jeopardy Productions, Inc.) NO SALES

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Silicon Valley's IBM is finally sending its Watson computer out into the working world.

The supercomputer system is best known for trouncing the world's best ``Jeopardy!'' players on TV. But now one of the nation's largest health insurers is hiring it to help diagnose medical problems and authorize treatments.

The insurer, WellPoint Inc., says Watson is a game-changer in health care.

IBM says the WellPoint application will relate a patient's symptoms and history to textbooks and medical journals. In just a few seconds, it can present several possible diagnoses or treatments.

Future uses for Watson could include financial information and public safety.

The company won't say how much it's being paid, but it's the first money Watson has earned for IBM; its game-show winnings went to charity.

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