Developers have been constantly pushed by IBM to start building apps with the help of its Watson artificial intelligence system, in hopes that this will become a big moneymaker sometime in the future.
Its latest push was kicked off this week, as IBM pledged $5 million in grants for the biggest Watson-related breakthroughs by 2020. According to the company’s announcement, teams from anywhere in the world can participate in the contest.
All they have to do is start developing and experimenting with how humans can make use of the powerful cognitive A.I. technologies in order to find solutions for the world’s biggest challenges.
IBM has been part of the solution in many cases in the past, counting among its achievements events like the moon landing and helping to map the human genome. Among the grand challenges of our century is addressing climate change – and it’s still up for grabs.
Peter Diamandis, founder of XPrize and IBM’s partner for this project, has presented the contest on Wednesday at the TED conference in Vancouver. Assuming that TED 2020 is still going to be an event by then, IBM plans to use it as setting for the announcement of the winners.
According to an IBM spokeswoman, the $4.5 million of the prize money will be split between three winning teams – meaning that each could pick as much as $1.5 million. The remaining $500,000 will be used to help fund projects until the deadline.
Showing its complete dedication for its Watson AI, IBM is the one funding the project with all the cash. Starting this year – and each year until 2020 – the enrolled teams will showcase their development at IBM’s World of Watson conference.
After being evaluated by “a panel of expert judges for technical validity and the audacity of their mission,” the winners will advance to the next year’s battle. Starting as a giant server system capable of winning the Jeopardy TV contest back in 2011, Watson is now a distributed system up in the cloud.
IBM is offering to developers its various AI technologies – such as language processing and image recognition – as services through programming interfaces. So far, some companies have started developing apps based on Watson’s APIs, but IBM hopes for something far grander.
This kind of contest could be exactly the needed boost for the field of futuristic projects to start blooming, because so far, Google’s X lab seems to be the only one trying to solve the world’s big issues.
Image Source: TED Blog