• 02.17.16

XPrize And IBM Offer $5 Million For The Best Human-Artificial Intelligence Collaboration

Robots are going to be delivering TED talks soon.

XPrize And IBM Offer $5 Million For The Best Human-Artificial Intelligence Collaboration
Illustration: Teia via Shutterstock

There have been more than 2,100 TED talks delivered. None have been given by a robot. By 2020, that will change.


At this year’s TED event, IBM’s Watson team and the XPrize Foundation launched a $5 million prize for the best AI-human collaboration that tackles a world “grand challenge.” The three finalists will demonstrate what they have achieved on the TED stage in 2020 and be judged by the audience. The speakers will either be an AI system or an AI and human working together.

The IBM Watson AI XPrize doesn’t have a specific goal. “We’re actually allowing teams to define their own challenge in the area of AI-human collaboration, effectively call their own shot,” says Peter Diamandis, founder and executive chairman of the XPrize.

In part, the prize is an answer to the AI haters–those who say that the rise of robots will spell doom for human civilization. “The fact of the matter is, personally, I’m sick and tired of the dystopian conversation about AI,” says Diamandis.

Watson is IBM’s artificial intelligence program that famously won Jeopardy several years ago. In 2014, IBM turned Watson from a research project to a business division with a $1 billion investment and is working on applications ranging from education, retail, medicine, and business.“I truly believe AI will be the most important and impactful technology in our lifetimes,” says David Kenny, IBM Watson’s general manager.

About the author

Jessica Leber is a staff editor and writer for Fast Company's Co.Exist. Previously, she was a business reporter for MIT’s Technology Review and an environmental reporter at ClimateWire.