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FAQ

Why an AI XPRIZE?

Why is this competition so important?

The IBM Watson AI XPRIZE will convene and inspire skilled developers and innovators to cooperate and focus their talents, and in collaboration with AI solve some of the world’s grandest challenges. This competition will accelerate the development of powerful AI technologies and show the world how AIs and humans can collaborate and work together to create advanced and scalable AI applications that will benefit humanity.

Why is the competition focused on AI?

AI will likely be understood as this generation’s greatest advancement, on par with personal computing and the Internet. We believe that this competition can accelerate the creation of breakthrough AI technologies and APIs that deliver new, scalable, and clear impacts to peoples’ lives, and the transformation of industries and professions.

Why does the industry need a prize like this now – isn’t there enough investment/innovation in this space?

It is true that this industry is on an exponential growth path with more than $17 billion invested in AI research since 2009 and hundreds of companies entering the marketplace. But very little has been done to ensure a grander collaboration across disciplines and technologies and applying these solutions to complex market failures. This competition will, through positive demonstrations, educate and help shift the public’s view and thereby accelerate adoption and acceptance. This competition will also allow teams of all sizes to enter the competition and get a chance to showcase their ideas and breakthroughs and get support from the larger community. 

Tell me about the competition

How is this open competition structure different from prior XPRIZE competitions?

Rather than set a single, universal target for all teams, this competition will invite teams of technologists in AI to create their own challenge and then demonstrate achievement of that challenge over the course of three rounds of Competitions and at the Grand Prize Competition. This open prize structure will allow teams to showcase a myriad of approaches in areas as diverse as healthcare, energy & environment, education, transportation, communication and global development.

When does the competition start?

The registration officially opened on June 23, 2016.

What is the timeframe for the competition?

The IBM Watson AI XPRIZE is a four-year competition with annual rounds in 2017, 2018, and 2019. The top three finalists will then compete for the Grand Prize at TED 2020.

What types of teams do you expect to compete?

Teams can come from anywhere but will likely be developers, startups, scientists, or university researchers and students who are either currently working in AI or in an adjacent fields such as programming, computer science, software development, etc.

How much is the prize purse?

The total prize purse is $5 million and will be given away as follows:

Grand Prizes: The $3,000,000 Grand Prize, $1,000,000 2nd Place, and $500,000 3rd Place purses will be awarded at the end of competition Round 4 at TED 2020, for a total of $4.5 million.

Two Milestone Competition prize purses will be awarded in 2017 and 2018. A total of $500K will be available for these prizes.

All prize purses are denominated and will be awarded in United States dollars (USD).

How does XPRIZE define artificial intelligence?

AI is a very broad field, encompassing a wide range of disciplines. AI technologies address the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior, integrating sensory inputs and actions with cognitive capabilities. These are systems that possess domain understanding, learn from experience, reason towards specific goals, and interact naturally with human collaborators. True AI-human collaborations will augment and scale human and organizational intelligence through deep symbiotic relationships with individuals or teams, applying their expertise to a wide range of tasks. Entries in the competition may draw upon several of these disciplines to synthesize a collaborative approach to addressing a grand challenge. While the complete embodiment of a Team’s Entry may include many non-AI technologies, an Entry must substantially rely on the innovative use of technologies within the AI field.

How will the judging panel evaluate the technologies?

Each team’s technologies will be evaluated against the competition plans they develop. The judges will review these plans and accept teams whose plans are ambitious, audacious, and achieve the spirit of the competition.

How will the reviewers work with the teams?

The general community of experts in AI can help review and discuss the application submissions in detail with the teams and XPRIZE. This community of reviewers will be a resource to teams as they develop their application into a complete plan.

What is a wild card?

As AI is such a rapidly advancing field, substantial innovations are likely to occur during the course of the competition. To ensure we keep pace with the industry, we have added two Wild Card rounds to allow new teams with groundbreaking ideas to enter the competition. Wild Card teams will go through the same registration, expert-sourced review, and application process as original entrants on a calendar that begins in 2017 or 2018. Only a limited number of Wild Card teams will be allowed to compete in round 2 and 3.

What is the definition of a grand challenge?

A grand challenge is one of the most significant problems that humanity currently faces. If left unaddressed there are significant negative consequences for humanity including loss of life, reduction in health, lack of access to basic human needs, lack of well-being, lack of education, environmental degradation, and inequality. Consequently, addressing, or even solving, a grand challenge should have the potential to improve the lives of millions of people or other living beings. While Teams may not directly address a grand challenge, they are highly encouraged to solve meaningful problems that would contribute to addressing a grand challenge.

Is this a global competition?

Yes! Anyone can compete in an XPRIZE competition. Teams from around the world are encouraged to enter and compete for the prize.

Why is IBM Watson Sponsoring the AI XPRIZE?

XPRIZE and IBM Watson share the belief that AI applications have the potential for significant human benefit. The IBM Watson cognitive computing platform has pioneered redefining intelligence using machine learning, statistical analysis and natural language processing. IBM Watson is sponsoring this prize to keep pushing the frontiers of advancement in AI and show its commitment in driving widely accessible solutions helping human-machine collaboration. While its platform may be available for this prize, IBM hopes that many other technologies would also be included by competing teams. IBM believes AI and Cognitive Computing technologies represent a new era in computing history. These technologies will play a role in dramatically improving our society in the decades ahead.

How is TED involved in the competition?

TED is the presenting sponsor of the IBM Watson XPRIZE and is providing the global stage for announcing the competition and the final competing round in 2020. TED, with its broad global audience and focus on technology and design, is the perfect platform for showcasing breakthroughs in the AI field.

How do I get Involved?

If I missed the deadline to register what can I do?

As AI is such a rapidly advancing field, substantial innovations are likely to occur during the course of the competition. Two Wild Card rounds will permit a few number of new Teams with groundbreaking ideas to enter the competition. Registration for the first Wild Card Round will open on August 1, 2017 and close on December 1, 2017.  For more information about this opportunity read the competition guidelines.

Why is a registration fee required to compete?

Competing in an XPRIZE is an exciting journey that often requires a commitment of time, expertise and resources. Registration fees are required as a simple qualifier to ensure competitors will be able to obtain the appropriate resources to fully compete. All fees collected are used to support teams and competition operational costs such as testing, team focused events, media and prize impact development.

Do I have to use the IBM Watson platform to compete?

Teams are encouraged to investigate and evaluate all available AI tools and services, including IBM Watson, but the use of IBM Watson is not required for this competition. Teams should build the best solutions they can: the use of IBM Watson technologies is not a scoring criterion and will not be an advantage or disadvantage to teams.

I am not sure whether to apply just yet, but can I help the competition or teams?

We are accepting the support of many partners to join this prize. In addition to help teams create their best applications, it is possible to provide tools, data sets, test environment, computing resources, and any other support to make sure that all teams can compete effectively. Get Involved.

If I am not competing, how can I get involved?

Whether you just want to learn more and amplify the reach and impact of this competition, or want to directly support teams with resources and expertise, there is an opportunity to participate. Please share with us how you would like to be part of the journey, and we will be in touch. Get Involved.

If you are interested in a marketing partnership please contact the Marketing Director at ai@xprize.org.

Is there help for developing teams?

Yes. Once you have expressed an interest in competing and completed an online profile, you will have access to our competition portal where people (or groups) will post their skills or the skills they are looking for to complete their team. There you will find opportunities to collaborate and be part of this unique competition. You can also join our online XPRIZE Forum where you can discuss the prize and connect with teams and a larger AI community.

Impact of the Prize

What impact could this prize have?

The IBM Watson AI XPRIZE will convene and inspire skilled developers and innovators to cooperate and focus their talents, and in collaboration with AI, solve some of the worlds’ grandest challenges.

The IBM Watson AI XPRIZE provides an interdisciplinary platform for domain experts, developers and innovators to, through collaboration, push the boundaries of AI to new heights. The competition will bring the AI community together and accelerate the development of scalable, hybrid solutions and audacious breakthroughs to address humanity’s grandest challenges. The final applications can come from any areas but all will demonstrate a specific benefit to humanity and show how they will transform our lives for the better.

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