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XPRIZE up for Artificial Intelligence that can give a TED talk

21 March 2014, 11:23 pm EDT By James Maynard Tech Times
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A new Xprize was announced by Peter Diamandis and Chris Anderson, leaders of the XPrize Foundation. The developers are calling for the first robot capable of giving a TED talk, and get a standing ovation from the assembled crowd. 

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) are a series of conferences held each year in Vancouver. The talks welcome innovators from locations around the world. The idea, and motto, of the program is "ideas worth spreading." The first meeting was held in 1984, and was not originally designed to be a regular event. In 1990, the first of the annual TED talks took place in Monterey, California, focused on technology issues. 

The conferences are the brainchild of architect and graphic designer Richard Saul Wurman. Sponsorship of the talks is unwritten by the Sapling Foundation. That organization was established in 1996 by publisher Chris Anderson. 

"Advances in machine learning and AI have made extraordinary progress over the past decade, but we've barely scratched the surface. This global competition could help spur its development across a myriad of areas - including biological research, exploration, education, health care, and fields we have not yet even imagined," Peter Diamandis, chairman and CEO of X Prize, said in a statement.

XPrizes were founded in 1995, and are awarded to researchers who develop technologies with the potential to greatly benefit mankind. Earlier prizes had very definite rules and benchmarks to make to win. The rules for this latest contest are much more vague. To bring home the prize, researchers will need to deliver a robot capable of taking the stage at the TED conference. Then, the mechanical being must deliver a talk so compelling, it brings the crowd to its feet for a standing ovation. All of this must be accomplished with no human interaction with the mechanical being. 

In 1950, computer scientist Alan Turing proposed a thought experiment for computers. His Turing test measures the ability of a computer to carry on a conversation indistinguishable from a human being. To perform the test, a test subject is kept alone in a room. They provide questions through a keyboard, which are given to a human and a computer. The volunteer then reads the answers, and attempts to determine if the answers are provided by a machine or fellow human. Any computer that provides answers that could not be recognized as coming from an electronic system passes the test. 

The new AI Xprize is seen by the foundation as a modern-day version of the Turing test. Details of the contest are still being finalized, and the Xprize Foundation is looking for input from the public. 

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