Pushing the Boundaries of AI

Jun 23 2016

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) surrounds us. It’s in our search engines, our automobiles, our phones, our video-streaming websites, even operates on the financial markets, and we are making daily decisions today that may involve some interaction with an intelligent machine. The world got to know AI in 2011 when IBM Watson’s supercomputer defeated two of Jeopardy’s greatest champions, playing the game like his human counterparts. And more recently, with DeepMind defeating the world champion of Go. 

Over the past 50 years, AI has made steady, linear progress. But, the technology has matured and is at an important inflection point, a point on the technology adoption curve where AI has the potential to transcend from linear growth to an exponential leap forward for humanity.

Exactly how much, how soon and to what extent AI can help is still unknown, which is why IBM and XPRIZE are launching the IBM Watson AI XPRIZE, a $5 million global competition challenging teams to develop and demonstrate how humans can collaborate with powerful AI technologies to tackle the world’s grand challenges. This competition is designed to show us how far we can go in undertaking cancer, poverty, climate change and more – with the help of AI. 

The AI XPRIZE is unlike any other prize we have ever launched. It’s the first “open” XPRIZE, where teams can design their own challenge, without a single target or objective for everyone. Teams from around the world will have the opportunity to annually showcase the most promising advancements in AI, vying to move forward through annual demonstrations in front of a panel of expert judges, culminating with the top three teams presenting on stage at TED2020. Finalists will be judged by their audaciousness, credibility, performance and scalability, and voted on by the Ted2020 audience. 

IBM Watson is sponsoring this prize to help push the frontiers of advancement in AI and solutions developed through human-machine collaboration. This prize will also demonstrate the near-term benefit of AI and potentially catalyze a marketplace and drive investment in AI, creating a future where AI is making everyday tasks easier and accelerating our ability to tackle our grand challenges. 

As an engineer, past cognitive researcher, and investor, I have always been fascinated in the use of technology for societal impact. Part of my life and research has been spent in AI for healthcare. For me, the AI XPRIZE is an opportunity to tie many of my interests together and to be part of something that will have a meaningful global impact. It’s also an opportunity to build progressive public perception of AI by demonstrating the good that it can do for society.

To the developers, social engineers, entrepreneurs and innovators of the world, consider joining a team. For the AI enthusiasts and anyone interested in how technology can help humanity, I hope you will follow the competition and support a team, as we continue to push the boundaries of AI.