'Jeopardy!'-winning computer delving into medicine

By JIM FITZGERALD | May 21, 2011 | 2:14 PM EDT

YORKTOWN, N.Y. (AP) — IBM's Watson computer system, best known for defeating the world's best "Jeopardy!" players, now delivers rapid-fire answers to questions about diseases and medicines.

The company says it could be suggesting diagnoses and treatments to doctors right at a patient's bedside in the next couple of years.

A recent demonstration showed how Watson's suggested diagnoses evolved as the computer was given more information about a patient, including where the patient lived. When told a patient was pregnant, it altered its treatment suggestion.

Watson is being fed a diet of medical textbooks and journals and taking training questions in plain language from medical students. A doctor who is helping IBM says its database might soon include entries from blogs.