Peter Diamandis’ XPRIZE to award the brightest advancement in AI with $5 million

xprize 5 million prize ai innovation peter diamandis ceo and founder
Sebastiaan ter Burg/Flickr
Take a stroll through the XPRIZE Foundation’s board of directors and trustees and you’ll see the page littered with a who’s who of tech titans ranging from Ariana Huffington and Elon Musk to James Cameron and Will Wright. A collection of brilliant minds from various industries of technology, but it’s not their own wealth of knowledge they’ll soon tap for future technological advancements. It’s yours.

Unveiled via the TED2016 event in Vancouver Wednesday, XPRIZE CEO and founder Peter Diamandis announced a new $5 million prize to anyone who develops an innovative method of collaborating with artificial intelligence to solve Earth’s significant challenges. It’s as if Ex Machina was a Disney movie and not an Alex Garland psychological thriller.

“We at XPRIZE have been interested in artificial intelligence for a while now, one of the key disruptive technologies that we believe may be the best tool that humanity will be able to access in order to solve some of the world’s grand challenges,” XPRIZE prize designer Stephanie Wander tells Digital Trends.

XPRIZE CEO Peter Diamandis (left) and IBM Watson's Dave Kenny (right) at TED2016
XPRIZE CEO Peter Diamandis (left) and IBM Watson’s Dave Kenny (right) at TED2016 Bret Hartman / TED

During the announcement, Diamandis (flanked by IBM Watson general manager David Kenny) cited a displeasure with the way advanced AI constantly gets portrayed as a danger to humanity, saying he’s “sick and tired of the dystopian conversation.” Because of this, XPRIZE wants to annually task bright young minds across the globe with developing their own AI-related partnerships intended to greatly advance the culture of AI. Be it the creation of a cognitive technology to fight climate change, improve health care, or otherwise, XPRIZE plans to let each group select their own preferred area of research.

“Two years ago, we announced our partnership with TED to design an AI XPRIZE and asked the public for input,” Wander continues. “Since then, we have been designing a competition along with IBM Watson, and we have decided to go with a more “open” prize model, allowing for a diversity of approaches and solutions.”

Though exact contest specifics and guidelines have yet to be announced (the organization plans to unveil these in May), it did provide an expected timeline for the competition. Each year, registered groups of researchers will face each other at IBM’s World of Watson conference, competing for smaller annual prizes and the privilege of returning to the following year’s event. Then, XPRIZE intends to select three finalist teams to officially present their innovative AI projects on a TED event stage in 2020. The ultimate winner gets to walk away from the conference $5 million richer and with all eyes squarely on their novel, humanity-aiding project.

Historically, XPRIZE has given out millions of dollars in research money to projects such as landing a privately funded robot on the moon or fully exploring and mapping the ocean floor. Considering the recent influx in artificial intelligence research, it seems a smart move by the organization to fuel the fire regarding positive advancements in the space. Though prior projects yielded higher returns as far as prize money is concerned, Wander says XPRIZE will remain committed not only to the winning group but to everyone involved.

“XPRIZE offers something we call operational incentives to all competing teams,” Wander says. “This is everything from creating opportunities for teams to interact with each other (team summits), potential investors/sponsors (investor summits), testing and validation opportunities, marketing support, and engaging relevant government bodies or other important stakeholders. In partnership with IBM Watson, we are working on building out a suite of resources and opportunities to support the teams who will compete in the AI XPRIZE.”

The organization is currently allowing interested parties to pre-register for the competition via the AI XPRIZE landing page and, according to Wander, expects “hundreds, if not thousands” of groups to turn out for the ongoing event. With $5 million on the line and an opportunity to present the future of cognitive computing to the tech industry’s brightest and best, it appears the advancement of artificial intelligence is headed in the right direction.

Movies & TV

You should read these epic sci-fi novels before they become blockbuster films

You can get ahead of the next crop of science-fiction movies coming out of Hollywood by picking up the books that inspired them. We compiled a list of books you can add to your reading list now to get a glimpse of the future.
Computing

The HoloLens 2 will be announced at MWC. Here's what we know about it so far

The HoloLens 2 is ripe for an announcement. Here's what Microsoft has revealed so far, what's likely in store for the next generation HoloLens, and everything that we know about this mixed reality headset.
Movies & TV

'Terminator: Dark Fate' is the working title for the new Terminator movie

The most recent Terminator films didn't do so well, but now James Cameron has returned to reinvigorate the franchise. Here's everything we know about the cast, crew, and story of the upcoming Terminator: Dark Fate movie.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Mobile

These 13 gadgets walk a fine line between ingenious and insane

The annual avalanche of devices and gadgets is astounding, but how many will succeed? A few are destined to spark new trends, while the majority fade deservedly into obscurity. We look at some gadgets on the border of brilliant and bonkers.
Emerging Tech

A.I.-powered website creates freakishly lifelike faces of people who don’t exist

No, this isn't a picture of a missing person. It's a face generated by a new artificial intelligence on the website ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com. Here's how the impressive A.I. works.
Emerging Tech

Global Good wants to rid the world of deadly diseases with lasers and A.I.

Global Good, a collaboration between Intellectual Ventures and Bill Gates, aims to eradicate diseases that kill children in developing nations. It tackles difficult problems with high-tech prototypes.
Emerging Tech

China’s mind-controlled cyborg rats are proof we live in a cyberpunk dystopia

Neuroscience researchers from Zhejiang University, China, have created a method that allows humans to control the movements of rats using a technology called a brain-brain interface.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s MAVEN orbiter has a new job as a communication relay for Mars 2020

NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) orbiter has been collecting atmospheric readings but now is taking on a new job as a data relay satellite for the Mars 2020 mission that launches next year.
Emerging Tech

Underground volcanoes could explain possible liquid water on Mars

Last year scientists discovered there could be liquid water on Mars. Now a research team argues that for there to be liquid water, there must be an underground source of heat -- and they believe underground volcanoes could be responsible.
Emerging Tech

The 10 most expensive drones that you (a civilian) can buy

OK, these drones may be a bit beyond your budget: Check out the most expensive drones in the world, from industrial giants to highest-end filming tools.
Emerging Tech

Of all the vape pens in the world, these 5 are the best

Vaping concentrates has become significantly more popular, especially among those that use cannabis for medicinal purposes. But don’t use just any vape pen: we found these five devices to be our favorites in 2018.
Emerging Tech

A river of stars one billion years old flows across the southern sky

Astronomers have identified a river of stars flowing across our galaxy and covering most of the southern sky. The estimated 4000 stars that comprise the stream were born together and have been moving together for the last one billion years.
Emerging Tech

Descending at an angle could be key to landing heavier craft on Mars

Landing on Mars is a challenge: The heavier the craft, the more difficult a safe landing becomes. Scientists propose using retropropulsion engines and angling the craft to create a pressure differential to land heavier crafts in the future.