February 17, 2011
By Jordan Robertson
Fresh off its shellacking of two human champions of the “Jeopardy!” television show, a computer program developed by IBM Corp. will soon get a workout in two hospitals that have signed up to test the technology.
The agreements with the Columbia University Medical Center and the University of Maryland School of Medicine will be the program’s first real-world tests outside of the trivia game show and IBM’s laboratories.
Watson, as IBM has dubbed the program, represents a breakthrough in the ability of computers to understand human language and scour massive databases to supply the most likely answer to questions. It’s not always right; some of its errors in its “Jeopardy!” debut this week were amusingly off-base.