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IBM Watson AI XPRIZE offers $5 million

Image: IBM Watson
IBM’s Watson AI software is best-known for winning at “Jeopardy!” in 2011. (Credit: IBM)

The latest multimillion-dollar tech challenge – known as the IBM Watson AI XPRIZE – will be aimed at encouraging collaboration between humans and artificial intelligence software to solve the world’s big problems. But it’s not yet clear who will sign up for the $5 million competition, in part because IBM’s Watson program is already one of the contestants in a much bigger, multibillion-dollar AI race.

The Feb. 17 announcement, made at the TED2016 conference in Vancouver, B.C., adds artificial intelligence to an XPRIZE list that also spotlights ocean discovery, moon exploration, carbon recycling, medical diagnostic devices, educational software and much, much more.

“Our hope is that the teams will show how we can apply AI to the world’s great challenges,” Stephanie Wander, who’s on the prize development team for California-based XPRIZE, told GeekWire. “That would be the cat’s meow.”

A lot of the details surrounding the competition still have to be worked out. The complete rules and guidelines are to be made available in mid-May, just before IBM’s World of Watson conference. Teams can already pre-register.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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