IBM has been encouraging developers to use its Watson artificial intelligence system to make apps in hopes of making the system a surefire moneymaker in the future. In its latest push to popularize the system, the tech firm has pledged $5 million in grants for the biggest Watson-related breakthroughs by 2020.

IBM Sets Aside $5M For Watson AI Contest

Ideas must have AI at center

On Wednesday, Peter Diamandis announced the plan at the TED conference in Vancouver. Diamandis is the founder of XPrize and IBM’s partner for this project.

“I’m sick and tired of the dystopian vision of artificial intelligence,” Diamandis said. “AI is one of the most important inventions we will create to solve humanity’s grand challenges, to understand the potential the future provides for us.”

According to IBM, the contest is open to teams from all parts of the world. All the teams need to do is come up with a concept of how people can use powerful cognitive AI technologies to address the hardest challenges. The teams will “effectively call their own shots, and then come up and demonstrate what they’ve done,” Diamandis said.

About the contest

IBM is the only funding source for the project. Each year, including this year, registered teams will be demonstrating their concept at IBM’s World of Watson conference. The winners will proceed to the next year’s battle only after being evaluated by “a panel of expert judges for technical validity and the audacity of their mission.”

As per IBM, the prize money of $4.5 million will be shared by three teams, so each could pocket a maximum of $1.5 million. The balance of $500,000 will be used to fund the project until the deadline.

IBM aims to make Watson bigger

Watson, which started as a giant server system, is now a distributed system in the cloud. IBM offers several AI technologies services to developers in the form of language processing and image recognition via programming interfaces. Though many companies are using the platform for developing apps, the tech firm is aiming for something much bigger.

IBM itself has been the part of many landmark breakthroughs in the past. Some of its achievements are moon landing and human genome mapping. However, arguably the biggest challenge facing humanity today is climate change, and a solution is still nowhere in sight, but who knows? We might get a solution for this soon.