This is more than what search engines like Google and Bing do -- it has to find the correct answer itself. Software firms have produced question-answering systems for years, but they have been limited to simply phrased questions.
Watson, however, was able to handle the format of the game show "Jeopardy!", even though the clues are puzzling and the breadth of trivia is wide.
The New York Times reports:
"With Watson, IBM claims it has cracked the problem -- and aims to prove as much on national TV. The producers of "Jeopardy!" have agreed to pit Watson against some of the game's best former players as early as this fall. To test Watson's capabilities against actual humans, IBM's scientists began holding live matches last winter."
And it's often been winning.