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New XPrize: Can an AI project get a standing ovation at TED?

The challenge: Come up with an artificial intelligence project that by itself can come up with a TED talk so good it gets a standing ovation.

The AI XPrize, announced today at TED. XPrize

Can an artificial intelligence system get a standing ovation at the TED conference?

That's the challenge for the brand-new A.I. XPrize, announced Thursday at TED in Vancouver by XPrize Foundation head Peter Diamandis.

Unlike most XPrizes, which have clear rules and goals, this one is a bit more free-form. Described as "a modern-day Turing test, [it will] be awarded to the first A.I. to walk or roll out on stage and present a TED talk so compelling that it commands a standing ovation from you, the audience."

And TED and the XPrize Foundation is turning to the global community for ideas on how to make this a reality. Fortunately, though, it is offering a few sample ideas on what could be the winning formula:

In advance of the TED conference, a group of judges develop 100 different TED talk subjects. During the TED conference, the TED audience chooses one of these subjects (or the subject is randomly chosen) and then the competing A.I. is given 30 minutes to prepare a compelling 3 min TED talk. The team could decide how their A.I. would present on stage -- would it be a physical robot that walks out to present? Or a disembodied voice? After the talk, the audience would vote with their applause and, if appropriate, with a standing ovation. Next, the A.I. would need to answer two questions from Chris Anderson, the host of the conference, and then a panel of experts would also add their votes.

Each year at the TED conference, an interim prize would be offered for the best A.I. presentation until such time that an A.I. truly delivers a spectacular TED talk, and the A.I. XPrize presented by TED winner is crowned.

That, of course, is just one approach. The winning angle may be something altogether different. And it's as yet unclear how much the victorious team will win.

Still, it's an interesting idea. One hopes that TED audiences of the future will not be so bowled over by the very concept of an A.I. giving a talk that they automatically give the first one to take the stage a standing O. Instead, let's hope that the first-ever ovation is truly deserving. Maybe it'll be a meta talk, an A.I. explaining how it took on the challenge of getting a standing ovation at TED, and the process it took to achieve success.