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Solving the world's biggest challenges with AI could net you a cool $3 million

Interested in the future of artificial intelligence? Fancy winning a few million dollars? If you answered in the affirmative to both of these questions, you might want to consider putting your little gray cells to good use by signing up to the newly opened IBM Watson AI Xprize. The AI and cognitive computing competition challenges teams from around the world to come up with ways in which humans and AI can team up to solve the world’s biggest conundrums.

“We see tremendous opportunity in the emerging generation of problem solvers to use AI to solve humanity’s grandest challenges,” Amir Banifatemi, prize lead of the IBM Watson AI Xprize, told Digital Trends.

“The ‘open’ nature of the competition will allow teams for the first time to define their own challenges and demonstrate their solutions utilizing any AI technology, allowing for myriad problem-solving approaches.”

Yep, that’s right: the contest doesn’t specify which of humanity’s biggest dilemmas you need to approach — instead encouraging people to pick their own topic. (For the record, we’d guess that if you have to ask whether your challenge is challenging enough, it probably isn’t.) As the contest’s organizers put it: “The goal is … to accelerate the understanding and adoption of AI’s most promising breakthroughs.”

Three finalist teams will ultimately take the stage at TED 2020, where they’ll deliver a “jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring” presentation about everything they’ve achieved. The grand prize winners will take home $3 million, the second place will be awarded $1 million, and $500,000 will go to the runners-up.

As to how the contest will be judged — given the range of different challenges and possible solutions that will be addressed — Banifatemi told Digital Trends: “Each team’s proposal will be evaluated against the goal and evaluation method they set themselves. The judges will review these plans and accept teams whose plans include solutions that include performant and scalable AI, that can contribute to more tools and data sets for the general community to benefit from, that can address specific issues, and are generally audacious and achieve the spirit of the competition.”

Got that? If so, you can sign up for the IBM Watson AI Xprize competition here. After that, you just need to get thinking. Good luck!

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Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
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