In the cancer program, the computer will be considering what treatment is most likely to succeed. In the insurance program, it will consider what treatment should be authorized for payment.

Watson _ actually named for IBM founder Thomas Watson and not Sherlock Holmes’ friend _ has been trained in medicine through pilot programs at Indianapolis-based WellPoint and at Sloan-Kettering in New York.

Manoj Saxena, an IBM general manager, said the supercomputer has ingested 1,500 lung cancer cases from Sloan-Kettering records, plus 2 million pages of text from journals, textbooks and treatment guidelines.

It also learned “like a medical student,” by being corrected when it was questioned by doctors and came up with wrong answers, Saxena said in an interview.