Two years ago, IBM's supercomputer beat the champions of "Jeopardy!" Now the whiz kid is taking on a new challenge -- Watson is in intense training to help fight cancer.
Oncologist Dr. Mark Kris, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, is collaborating with IBM. He's teaching the computer how to assist doctors in making individualized treatment plans for lung cancer patients.
"What we are creating now are a generation of computers that can learn from the data that they see, and make decisions," Kris said. "There are two million people with lung cancer...and the vast majority of those get a drug treatment, so the idea was to use Watson technology to make better treatment decisions."
Watson has already ingested more than 600,000 pieces of medical evidence, two million pages of text, 26,000 clinical cases, and had almost 15,000 hours of training.
Dr. Martin Kohn, chief medical scientist at IBM, explained, "A substantial part of it is self-taught, what's called 'machine learning,' where Watson is programmed to understand and analyze English. ... The amount of information out there is just a torrent. So we're going to need help in keeping up with it."