The field of artificial intelligence is already one of the busiest in all of computer science — or really, the tech industry as a whole. And it’s about to get busier.
This week, IBM and XPRIZE announced a global competition inviting tech teams to develop new and innovative A.I. systems for the benefit of all mankind. You know — our species. At stake: $5 million in prize money and more high-bandwidth publicity than you can shake a neural network at.
Dubbed “IBM Watson A.I. XPRIZE: A Cognitive Computing Competition,” the new initiative was announced at this week’s TED2016 conference in Vancouver, Canada. IBM is encouraging competitors to think big and tackle global problems in areas such as climate change, education and health care.
Here’s the plan: Starting in 2017, tech teams will go head-to-head at IBM’s annual World of Watson conference to present their projects. They’ll be competing for interim prizes and the chance to move on to the next year’s competition. (Watson, of course, is IBM’s resident celebrity A.I. and former Jeopardy champion.)
Then, in 2020, three finalists will take the stage at the ginormous TED2020 conference to deliver competing, full-on TED Talks promoting their particular vision. The presentations will be assessed by a TBA panel of expert judges, with an eye toward both the ambition of the vision and the technical viability of the project. The ultimate winner will get a cool $5 million in additional funding.
While official guidelines won’t be issued until May, organizers say the competition is designed to be pretty wide open in terms of scope and scale. There will be a focus on ideas that stress human-machine collaboration, but past that competitors can pitch any kind of challenge — and solution.