Watson's creators prepare for next assignment

February 17, 2011 12:31:03 AM PST
IBM's supercomputer Watson has spent the last two days facing off against returning Jeopardy champs Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings.

IBM has programmed the robot to recognize human language. It searches its massive database of books and encyclopedias, comes up with all the likely answers to a Jeopardy question, then rank the answers by percentages -- all in an instant.

Its creators are already looking ahead to Watson's next assignment.

"First one, we're looking at is helping physicians make better decisions in the medical domain. Something we call differential diagnosis. And applying that technology to help physicians in that space," IBM Research Scientist Eric Brown said.

In a few years, Carnegie Mellon University robotic whiz Red Whittaker will be launching a robot to the moon as part of Google challenge. When it lands, the robot will make all sorts of key and crucial real-time decisions -- like Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin did 42 years ago -- but what humans can do that machines can't will already have been done: Create the whole darn thing.