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IBM Watson offers $5m for an AI to save the world

Money out of the marketing budget?

Watson Power7 cluster. Pic: IBM

And so IBM Watson's massive marketing push continues: this time with the launch of a $5m (£3.4m) prize in an artificial intelligence competition that will run until 2020. Contenders – or perhaps their 'bots – will have to battle it out at a mainstage event at IBM's annual conference before the winner pockets their prize at the annual TED talk-fest.

With the snappy name of "The IBM Watson™ AI XPrize: A Cognitive Computing Competition, Presented by TED" the $5m marketing scheme was announced at TED2016, in Vancouver.

The challenge is open to any team around the world that can "develop and demonstrate how humans can collaborate with powerful cognitive technologies to tackle some of the world’s grand challenges."

While the main prize of $4.5m will be delivered during the TED conference in 2020, the three teams that make it to that stage will have featured at IBM's annual conference "World of Watson" before then, competing head-to-head for interim prizes and the opportunity to advance to next year's competition.

The interim prizes will add up to $500,000, and it is hoped that hundreds of teams will participate at IBM's developer conference.

The ideas will be evaluated by a panel of "expert judges for technical validity", though apparently the TED and XPRIZE communities will select the winner "based on the audacity of their mission and the awe-inspiring nature of the teams’ TED Talks in 2020."

The complete rules for the competition and its entry guidelines will be made available on 15 May. Those interested can register here. ®

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