IBM dangles US$5 million prize for major breakthroughs using Watson

Three winners will be announced at the TED conference in 2020

IBM Watson appears on the Jeopardy quiz show Credit: IBM

IBM Watson appears on the Jeopardy quiz show Credit: IBM

IBM has been encouraging developers to build apps using its Watson artificial intelligence system, which it hopes will be a big moneymaker for the company in the future.

On Wednesday it kicked off its latest push, pledging US$5 million in prizes for whoever makes the biggest breakthroughs using Watson by 2020.

“We're inviting teams from around the world to develop and demonstrate how humans can collaborate with powerful cognitive A.I. technologies capable of solving some of the world's grand challenges,” the company said.

And by grand challenges, it’s thinking big — it lists past achievements like the moon landing, mapping the human genome, and addressing climate change. (That last one might still be up for grabs, by the way).

The contest is being launched Wednesday at the TED conference in Vancouver by Peter Diamandis, founder of XPrize, which is partnering with IBM on the project.

The winners will be announced at TED 2020 (assuming the event is still around then). Three winning teams will split $4.5 million of the prize money, an IBM spokeswoman said, meaning they could each pick up $1.5 million. The other $500,000 will help fund projects along the way. IBM is the one putting up all the cash.

Each year between now and 2020, teams will do battle at IBM's World of Watson conference, with the winners advancing to the next year. They'll be evaluated by "a panel of expert judges for technical validity and the audacity of their mission."

Watson began life as a giant server system that won the Jeopardy contest on TV back in 2011. It's now a distributed system that lives in the cloud, its various AI technologies -- like image recognition and language processing -- offered as services via programming interfaces.

IBM Watson APIs IBM/IDGNS

Some of the Watson services offered as APIs

Several companies have created apps that use the Watson APIs, but IBM apparently wants something far grander. The contest could give it a chance to rival some of the futuristic projects coming out of Google's X lab, now part of Alphabet, which is also trying to solve the world's big challenges.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

James Niccolai

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?