IBM's intelligent computer Watson has inspired a new XPRIZE

XPRIZE to dispel artificial intelligence worries

To dispel concerns that artificial intelligence (AI) could wipe out mankind and to demonstrate benefits of the nascent technology is the goal of a new XPRIZE that invites teams to compete for $5m in rewards.

The new challenge, supported by IBM, will run until 2020 with elimination rounds taking place every year at IBM’s World of Watson conferences, dedicated to the company’s machine capable of answering questions posed in the natural language.

"Personally, I am sick and tired of the dystopian conversation around AI," said XPRIZE founder Peter Diamandis.

Some of the world’s greatest minds, including physicist Stephen Hawking and technology entrepreneur Elon Musk have warned that AI could possibly destroy humanity if not handled with care.

However, the challenge hopes to show a more optimistic version of the future where self-aware intelligent machines work with humans side-by-side to solve the most pressing issues facing the world, including climate change and the battle against cancer.

The IBM Watson AI XPRIZE invites teams to propose and develop bold ideas of how AI can serve mankind.

"X PRIZE and IBM believe that the partnership between humans and technology has produced some of society's most ground-breaking modern advancements, from landing a man on the Moon to addressing climate change to mapping the human genome," the AI prize partners said in a joint release. "We believe there's an opportunity today for others to push the boundaries yet again."

Of the $5m cash pool, $500,000 will be awarded during the elimination process in the form of various milestone prizes. In 2020, the best three teams will present their ideas during the TED Conference. Ideas will be evaluated by a panel of expert judges for technical validity. The ultimate winner, who will receive $4,5m, will be selected by the TED and XPRIZE communities

IBM’s Watson computer gained fame in 2011 when it defeated a human champion in the Jeopardy quiz show. Since then, IBM has developed a whole array of applications for the technology including in medical diagnostics and online shopping.

IBM hopes the Watson AI XPRIZE will bring the technology further and accelerate the development of new applications.

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