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X Prize and IBM announce a $5 million artificial intelligence competition

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The X Prize Foundation and IBM have just announced a new global X Prize competition with a focus on artificial intelligence. Teams from around the world can take part in the “IBM Watson A.I. X Prize: A Cognitive Computing Competition,” as it’s being called, in hopes of taking home part of a $5 million purse to be awarded at the TED conference in 2020. Registration will open at the end of May.

In the early stages of AI development, opinions vary wildly on what it might be capable of, or what it will be useful for. That’s especially true for the heads of some of the world’s leading technology companies. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg thinks it would be best suited to turn his home into a smart house. Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is afraid of it. Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt thinks it can solve the world’s “hard problems.”

The new X Prize competition falls in this last camp. “For us it’s the possibility that we can cure cancer, that we can address climate change, the possibilities are wonderful and exciting and endless,” says Stephanie Wander, an X Prize Development Associate and design lead for this competition. “That’s the stuff that sometimes gets a little lost when you go right to the Terminator.”


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Here’s another elaboration on the goals:

I wasn’t planning to task my A.I. with saving the world until I have it run stable, dependable and well tested, so 2020 is a bit short notice. I’m gonna leave this one to the big boys.


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