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IBM primes Watson to aid doctors

IBM is reprogramming its renowned Watson supercomputer to help doctors with medical diagnoses

The computer shot to fame earlier this year after trouncing Jeopardy! all-time champions Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings.

IBM believes Watson's ability to process natural language and solve problems through a series of complex algorithms could prove to be a valuable tool for doctors.

At a recent event where its new capabilities were showcased, the computer was able to make better diagnoses and reconsider treatment options as it was fed new data about the patient.

Named after IBM's former president Thomas Watson, the computer consists of two units each with five racks. A single rack houses 10 IBM Power 750 servers.

Its database is made up of information from textbooks and journals, as well as simple and straightforward questions asked by medical students. In the future it could gather data from health and related blog posts.

IBM is hoping Watson will be ready to "see" and diagnose actual patients in the next two years.

Copyright Press Association 2011

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