It's always a pleasure when you ask someone a question and you get a direct answer instead of hemming and hawing. Millions of insurance customers know the pain of contacting their carrier's customer service department and getting absolutely nowhere. Is it possible that a new computer from IBM could someday change that?

I'm not advocating the complete removal of the human element from customer service, but if Watson takes off–and does anyone really believe it won't take off within the next decade–we could see the day when policyholders ask questions of a carrier's computer and gets short, succinct answers.

To show you how far this has come, IBM's Watson will compete on the televised game show Jeopardy! sometime in February. Watson will have its database full as one of the opponents is Ken Jennings, considered the greatest Jeopardy! player of all time.

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