Watson's First Consumer Role: Helping Military Vets Become Civilians

The USAA has announced that it's recruiting IBM's Watson for its first-ever consumer-facing application—and it'll help military members transition back into civilian life.

The supercomputer will help the USAA—essentially the insurance and financial services firm that helps military and their families—to advise those leaving the military about the transition from military to civilian life: finding new jobs, securing income and using their skills. The system will allow users to ask questions related to their move, and Watson will be able to reply using information it's gleaned from analyzing and understanding more than 3,000 documents about leaving the military.

With over 155,000 active military members becoming civilians each year, there are plenty of questions that need answering, and using Waston eases the burden on USAAA employees. According to IBM, the computer can happily answer questions like "How do I make the most of the Post-9/11 GI Bill?"—and its answers will get better over time. And it's probably a slightly—just slightly—more practical application than, say, writing recipes. [eWeek]