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(Reuters) - IBM's Watson supercomputer has beaten expert "Jeopardy" quiz show contestants, and its predecessor defeated a world chess champion. Now, doctors hope it can help them outsmart cancer.

Oncologists at two medical groups have started to test IBM's Watson's supercomputer system in an effort to improve speed and efficacy of treatments, the company said on Friday.

The Maine Center for Cancer Medicine and Westmed Medical Group will begin testing an application based on Watson's cognitive computing to help diagnose lung cancer and recommend treatment, IBM said.

"Access to comprehensive care can be difficult in rural areas such as southern Maine," said Tracey Weisberg, medical oncology president at Maine Center for Cancer Medicine and Blood Disorders.

"This allows the most comprehensive evidence based treatment we could have only dreamed of in the past," she added.

Watson is an artificial intelligence super computer system named after legendary International Business Machines President Thomas Watson.

Thanks to its computing power Watson can sift through 1.5 million patient records and histories to provide treatment options in a matter of seconds based on previous treatment outcomes and patient histories.

It has been fed with more than 600,000 pieces of medical evidence, 2 million pages of text from 42 medical journals and clinical trials in the area of oncology research, IBM said.

In addition, IBM partnered with clinicians and technology experts from health insurer WellPoint and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center who spent thousands of hours to teach Watson how to process, analyze and interpret the meaning of complex clinical information, IBM said.

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Seems like a nobler cause than a TV show.

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Seems like a nobler cause than a TV show.

While it may seem petty to spend four years building a supercomputer that can play on Jeopardy, that was merely a starting point; it was never their intention to leave it at that. It gave them a reason to develop the technology and to simply prove that it could be done. Now that they have the technology, they can use it in other roles, such as in scientific or medical research... and, you know, eventually, "preventing terrorism"...

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it would nice if that can be programmed to accurately predicts stock price up to a week ahead.

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Seems like a nobler cause than a TV show.

I was kind of hoping the computer would replace Trebek when he retires.

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it would nice if that can be programmed to accurately predicts stock price up to a week ahead.

^ It would be hard to predict what masses of human beings will do.

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. Now that they have the technology, they can use it in other roles, such as in scientific or medical research... and, you know, eventually, "preventing terrorism"...

This makes me think of "Minority Report".

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Will be amazing if it works.

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