TED Will Give $4.5m To A Speaker At Its 2020 Conference But There's A Catch, It Has To Be An AI

In what might be its most audacious challenge yet, the X-Prize foundation have said they will give $4.5m to a speaker at the 2020 TED conference with there being only one requirement: That the speaker be an artificial intelligence.

The IBM Watson AI X Prize will task companies to create an artificial intelligence which can fool audiences into thinking it is a human being for the duration of the talk.

Artificial intelligence in popular fiction hasn't always shown them as allies, as in Kubrick's iconic 2001: A Space Odyssey.

According to X Prize the winner will be chosen based on the "audacity of their mission and the awe-inspiring nature" of the talk that's given.

While there's plenty of software out there that can mimic humans and indeed fool some people into thinking that they're even conversing with a human the prize is setting a whole new bar.

For this prize companies will need to demonstrate the "creation of landmark breakthroughs that deliver new, positive impacts to peoples’ lives, and the transformation of industries and professions."

So no pressure then.

The IBM Watson supercomputer has become a testbed for AI technologies.

Thankfully for the competitors, Artificial Intelligence has come a long way since the days of HAL, with technologies like 'machine learning' allowing computers to analyse vast quantities of data and essentially 'tech themselves' into becoming more intelligent, more subjective and ultimately more empathetic to the world around them.

Indeed in the US, Google's self-driving car could soon have the same legal rights as a human driver after the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration admitted that in place of there being no driver, Google's own computer was the legal driver of the vehicle.

This is a massive step forward for Google because while it doesn't afford Google's car the same legal rights as a human driver, it does at least acknowledge the existence of a driver at all, even if it's not human.

In an open email, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Chief Counsel Paul Hemmersbaugh said:

"If no human occupant of the vehicle can actually drive the vehicle, it is more reasonable to identify the 'driver' as whatever (as opposed to whoever) is doing the driving. In this instance, an item of motor vehicle equipment, the SDS, is actually driving the vehicle."

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