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Xprize for Artificial Intelligence: Robotic TED Talk

Xprize is a pretty incredible outfit, known both for its ambition and its vision. Time and again, this organization has pushed the boundaries of technology. They’ve developed a real-world Tricorder, which debuted at this year’s consumer electronics show. They teamed with industry partners to land a private rover on the moon. And now, they’re teaming up with TED – a nonprofit dedicated to intelligence, knowledge, and ideas – for what may well be their most exciting project yet.

They’re going to fund a TED Talk about artificial intelligence hosted by a robot.

I don’t just mean the robot’s going to be present on-stage with a human representative, either. No, this machine will conduct its own talk with no human assistance whatsoever. It will move about the stage as it speaks to the audience, and – presumably – will answer questions when the talk is concluded. A tall order by any stretch, no?

It gets better, too. The partners aren’t simply going to throw any intelligence out on the stage. They’re looking to the audience to decide what sort of machine they’re going to use – and how the whole presentation  is ultimately going to go down. Want the AI to simply be a disembodied voice that booms down at the audience from the rafters? Perhaps Boston Dynamics’ Big Dog is more to your taste? Or maybe, just maybe, we should underscore how far robotics has come (and how far it has yet to go) by tossing a fully humanoid robot before the audience.

Xprize is hosting a dedicated subsite in order to allow its audience to pitch ideas on what format the talk should take, how long it should run, what topic should be chosen, and so on.  The ultimate goal here is to submit whatever AI makes the cut to something of a modern-day Turing Test. If it gets a standing ovation from the audience, it passes. If not, well…

It’ll still probably be a better presenter than most people.