At TED2020, 3 AI programs will give a talk on stage

18 Feb 2016

Peter Diamandis and IBM’s Dave Kenny announcing the IBM Watson AI XPrize at TED2016, Image via Bret Hartman / TED

Now this is interesting. At TED2016, the philanthropic science group XPrize and IBM launched a new $5m competition looking for three AI programs that could give a presentation at a TED conference in 2020.

Those three powerful AI programs will be taking part at TED2020 as part of the IBM Watson AI Prize that the pair has launched, which is challenging teams from around the world to develop and demonstrate how humans can collaborate with the latest cognitive technologies to tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges.

For each of the next three years, teams will get the chance to compete at IBM’s annual conference, World of Watson, to put their AI program to the test to compete for a $500,000 prize at this competition, but the overall winner will then progress to the grand final at TED2020 to compete for the remaining $4.5m.

Future Human

Both XPrize and IBM said that they hope the competition will hasten the development of true AI that could potentially make a fundamental difference in the world.

‘Sick and tired of dystopian AI’

The finalists who will be taking part can either be AIs on their own or an AI-human partnership, but it’s likely the former will be a more likely winner due to the fact that the TED2020 audience will be the ones deciding who wins the overall prize of $5m.

However, the deciding vote will be made by a team of judges, who will evaluate them based on their technical validity and the scope of the entrant’s mission for their creations.

Speaking on stage at TED2016, XPrize’s founder, Peter Diamandis, spoke quite plainly of those critical of the potential for AI in the future.

“I’m sick and tired of the dystopian vision of artificial intelligence,” he said. “AI is one of the most important inventions we will create to solve humanity’s grand challenges, to understand the potential the future provides for us.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic