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When Winning Jeopardy! Isn't Enough …

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IBM's Watson supercomputer turned in an impressive performance on the game show Jeopardy! early last year, beating its two human competitors by a wide margin. IBM assured the Jeopardy! audience that the technology behind Watson could be used to solve a number of problems, including some related to medicine. Now, says Semanticweb.com's Jennifer Zaino, IBM has teamed up with health insurance provider WellPoint to put Watson to the task of helping doctors treat cancer. "The initial focus of the strategic partnership will be on breast, lung and colon cancers," Zaino says. "The applications to be developed will take advantage of Watson's ability to analyze tremendous amounts of structured and unstructured information to help improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients." Watson will be fed information from research studies, medical journal papers, and treatment protocols, and will hopefully distill that down to helping oncologists find personalized solutions for their patients. WellPoint hopes using Watson will drive down the cost of treating cancer patients as well as improve outcomes, and the company will be "training" Watson for its debut in the clinic, Zaino adds.

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