IBM Watson's AI XPrize contest offers 147 teams a shot at $5 million in prizes

Once again the XPrize Foundation is offering a massive prize for those willing to innovate at the cutting edge of AI development. The IBM Watson AI XPrize is offering 147 teams the chance to earn a piece of a $5 million fund with their projects and ideas over the next three years.

The Xprize Foundation has helped encourage innovation in a variety of fields over the past two decades, giving inventors and engineers a real shot of monetizing amazing ideas and encouraging them to develop them. It’s currently running a number of competitions offering tens of millions of dollars for subjects as diverse as lunar robotics, carbon capture and literacy education. The latest initiative though, is for AI.

Although focused on artificial intelligence, this latest XPrize contest will be the first it’s run that’s “open.” While there will be themes, the basis for the competition will be that as long as the 147 competing teams address one of them using AI, it doesn’t necessarily matter in what manner they do it. All will be considered (via Engadget).

Some of the themes that teams will be exploring as part of their AI initiative include Health and Wellness, Civil Society, Space and Exploration and Energy and Resources. Projects can address any or all of the themes, they have complete autonomy in that regard.

The selected teams have already submitted their plans and will now have until October to send in evidence that they would work if fully developed. In early 2018, a panel of experts will announce which teams will progress through to the second round, with the selection further whittling down participants in early 2019. The finalists will eventually be announced in January 2020, with the prize being awarded at the Ted conference in April that same year.

While the eventual winners will receive $3 million in prize money, the second place team will receive $1 million, with $500,000 awarded for third place. A further $500,000 will be awarded in various amounts to different teams at the 2017 and 2018 milestone events, with both slated to take place in October.