Watson's first customers hope to leverage the supercomputer's learningvia IEEE Spectrum
capabilities. In one case, Watson is working on recommending potential cancer treatments
for specific medical cases based on a confidence percentage. The
supercomputer learns from its mistakes when human physicians correct its
errors during training.
But translating individual customers' business technicalities into
usable software for Watson to process has been rough sledding for IBM
engineers. That has led to delays in one of Watson's biggest client
projects—an effort, involving the University of Texas M.D. Anderson
Cancer Center, to make a version of Watson capable of recommending
leukemia treatments by sifting through medical journals and books.
A similar healthcare application is in the works in conjunction with
the Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, where
Watson would also serve as an adviser on cancer diagnoses and treatments. Watson has also found work with Wellpoint, the U.S. largest health insurer.
Turning Watson's "Jeopardy" smarts into huge business profits may seem
anything but elementary for IBM at this point. But to the company's
credit, it has continued to back Watson despite the early difficulties
and has enlisted AI researchers to continue improving the supercomputer's capabilities as it reaches out to more potential customers