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If you are anything like me, you tune in to watch Jeopardy every once in a while. This week I turned on the show to find two human beings battling a computer.

At first glance I was stunned for a moment when I figured out that the humans were actually going to play the machine for three nights. Of course, the computer won each night. I was left with one question.  What was this truly about?   After doing a little research on Dr. Watson, I found a much bigger idea.  The computer is science’s entry into responsive diagnostic medicine. Prototypes like Watson will be able to reduce diagnostic mistakes made in medical offices. When a patient comes in to a doctor’s office a full work up could be processed on premises by computers with AI ( Artificial Intelligence). It will allow for the doctors to complete procedures after having the computer fully analyze every option. This could lower medical malpractice suits, increase the ability for earlier treatments for certain diseases, therefore lengthening lifespans. The novelty of the machine competitng on Jeopardy was a friendly foray into the future.

“Watson,” was named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, beat out celebrated champions Ken Jennings – who won 74 games in a row on “Jeopardy” in 2004 to 2005 – and Brad Rutter – who is the record-holder for the most cumulative money won on the game show at $3.2 million.

The three-day competition was taped in January at IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Laboratory in New York. But the show was televised last  week in three episodes, with the final segment airing on Wednesday.

The success of “Watson” on the popular game show was a breakthrough for artificial intelligence researchers. The supercomputer was built so that it can respond to questions posed in natural language. “Jeopardy’s” game format requires analyzing subtle meaning, irony, riddles and other complexities that traditionally humans have excelled at and computers falter in.

The opportunity to change reasoning and diagnosis is now endless. Imagine going into a room and having a Dr. Watson take a look at you.  Star Trek has truly arrived.

IBM had announced in January that 100 percent of its $1 million prize from “Jeopardy” would go to charity. Half went to World Vision and the other half went to World Community Grid, a nonprofit that seeks to build the world’s largest public computing grid benefiting humanity.

Last week’s competition was merely child’s play with great intentions for the potential of technology to change the face of interfacing for answers.

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