Nand Kishor Contributor

Nand Kishor is the Product Manager of House of Bots. After finishing his studies in computer science, he ideated & re-launched Real Estate Business Intelligence Tool, where he created one of the leading Business Intelligence Tool for property price analysis in 2012. He also writes, research and sharing knowledge about Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Data Science, Big Data, Python Language etc... ...

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Nand Kishor is the Product Manager of House of Bots. After finishing his studies in computer science, he ideated & re-launched Real Estate Business Intelligence Tool, where he created one of the leading Business Intelligence Tool for property price analysis in 2012. He also writes, research and sharing knowledge about Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Data Science, Big Data, Python Language etc...

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AI Challenges For Startups and Programmers

By Nand Kishor |Email | Mar 6, 2018 | 15333 Views

If you missed the IBM Watson AI X Prize challenge or the Microsoft's $3.5 million Innovate AI global startup competition  worry not, we bring you a slew of interesting AI challenges your startups/companies can participate in to advance AI research, develop bleeding-edge solutions and win credits. In a world dominated by Kaggle, there are a slew of AI competitions that can help AI programmers to start their career in this booming world and startups to differentiate themselves from the competition.

If you are still not convinced about the benefits of participating in an AI contest - here's what it can do for you and your startup. By and large, the objective of these competitions is to bring together the most promising early-stage startups working on a bunch of problems using Artificial Intelligence. Besides bringing the startups on a global stage, the competition also helps early stage startups gain access to capital and further the development of AI research by applying them to real-world scenarios and improve people's lives.

The tech space is abuzz with AI solutions and startups and big companies alike are looking for a slice of pie in this booming market. Participating and perhaps winning these competitions can help startups differentiate themselves from the rest of the league of firms that claim to be doing AI' with just a set of well-established machine learning techniques for forecasts and predictive scoring. Today, for startups to succeed in the AI space, they need to go beyond the state-of-the-art statistical analysis methods, simple machine learning techniques and truly push the envelope with AI techniques like using reinforcement learning to tackle issues in innovative ways.

Here's how participating in an AI competition can help your business grow:
  • Building unique solutions for real business problems will help in onboarding customers
  • Provides a benchmark against competitors and also helps attract VC interest
  • Winners get a chance to forge collaborations with huge platform companies and scale their business models over time
  • Startups can also make revenue coming from services and consulting with their solutions and take it to global market


1) GoodAI's General AI Challenge: Let's face it, if you are in the business of AI, you would have definitely heard about Prague-based research and development company working towards general artificial intelligence.  The General AI Challenge is an international AI competition and Solving the AI Race round is still open.

What's the competition about: Essentially, the General AI Challenge consists of multiple rounds, and each round is crafted to tackle a crucial research problem in human-level AI development. The Czech company will dole out $5million in prize money over the following years. The objective of Solving the AI Race round is to find a solution or a group of solutions for reducing the risks associated with the AI race. Meanwhile, the second objective is to spark a discourse around AI in order to gain a better understanding of the nature of the AI race, raise awareness of the race, and to get as diverse an idea pool as possible.

2018 Round: Here's what to expect for this challenge. GoodAI is looking for solutions or proposals for policies, or other strategies, that can be utilized in the near future. The company is specifically looking for meta-solutions or frameworks that address the question of the hour - undergirds a better way to approach and deal with AI race issues. Startups/companies can submit open-ended roadmaps with high-level details.

Takeaway: Startups that are working in the space of solving AI-race problems can submit a framework or a whitepaper that analyzes and presents an actionable solution. The solution can be presented in a text/visualization format. In terms of prize money, there is a 15000 USD fund that will be distributed among finalist solutions selected by a jury and a minimum of 3000 USD  will be given to the top submission, while the remainder will be split amongst the shortlisted ideas.

Who can participate: Well, the competition is open to all but research/insights startups that have been researching about transformation AI are well-positioned to crank out an actionable strategy that can be acted upon in the near future. Even for companies working on policy for AI this sounds like a great fit.

Here's what the timeline looks like:

Launch of the round: 18 January 2018
Submission deadline:18 May 2018
Results announced: 18 July 2018

Registrations: Still open. Click here to know more

2) BattleCode from MIT: One of the most famous AI programming competitions, BattleCode MIT began on January 8, however registrations are still open. However, this competition is only open to full-time students and non-MIT students can also participate. Since you will be a participating student, background in AI is not necessary, but solid coding experience will come in handy.

What's the competition about: Now, BattleCode is a real-time strategy game, and participants (can be a single person or even a team of four) have to write an AI player. There are two teams of virtual robots roaming the screen, managing resources and executing different offensive strategies against each other. Like any other game, the contestant's AI player will need to strategically manage the robot army and control how robots work together to defeat the enemy team.

2018 Edition: For Battlecode 2018 edition, participants can write a bot in any language and as per the rules, MIT will provide boilerplate code and helper functions for a select set of languages, to help contests develop their bot effectively. As per the list, support will be provided for Python, Java, C, and Rust.

Takeaway: As a contestant, you will leverage your AI skills and use distributed algorithms, pathfinding and network communications to make your AI player as competitive as possible. The total prize money is over $50,000.

Who can participate: Even though this MIT competition is open to all, BattleCode considers teams of full-students. Good fit for students who are in their last year of jobs or interning and want to dabble in AI.

Registrations: Still open. Click here to know more

3) AI For Everyone by CrowdFlower: This challenge hosted by San Francisco-based data mining and crowdsourcing company CrowdFlower is a $1 million contest that is specifically aimed to help make a difference in the society- from non-profit ventures to scientific research. The company just wrapped up their third wave of challenge and announced the winners earlier in January, this year.

What's the competition about: CrowdFlower's AI For Everyone Challenge is designed to help advance cutting-edge projects in the world of artificial intelligence and carries a $1 million prize money. It is designed to support projects using AI to make the world a better place.

2018 round: The AI for Everyone Challenge is aimed at startups, companies, enterprises or even individuals to leverage AI to solve critical problems in their industry of choice. The selection process is based on the innovation of the project submitted and how significant it is to the advancement of AI. Plus, the jury also looks at the overall potential impact of the proposed initiative.

Takeaway: There is a $1 million prize money at stake.

Who can participate: The competition is open to all and applications for the next wave of winners is currently open. Two winners will be selected each quarter ending in May 2018 and you have to apply before March 14, 2018 here.  

Submission deadline is March 14th, 2018
Registrations: Still open. Click here to know more
4) HALITE II: Halite is an open source artificial intelligence programming challenge, made by Two Sigma,( a New York-based hedge fund company known for intelligent trading) where players build bots using the coding language of their choice to battle on a two-dimensional virtual board. While the 2017-2018 season ended, startups/individual participants can gear up for the upcoming 2018-2019 edition.

What's the competition about: Now, the 2017-2018 season ran from October- January, and participants were able to join up until the last week of the competition. As part of the challenge - contestants can submit bots that play games against other bots until the Halite ranking algorithm determined a player rank. The general rules indicate that when submissions are complete, a winner will be determined through a week of final matches.

Takeaway: Well, the key takeaway is that this serves directly as a recruiting ground for the New York-headquartered hedge fund company that has offices across the globe - Houston, Hong Kong, London. Two Sigma is eager to meet the talented players from the Halite community that take to the leaderboard and invites the winning contestants for interviews. Secondly, it is also a fun way to learn and apply ML techniques and advanced algorithms by developing smart bots in a collaborative, challenging game setting.

Who can participate: The competition is open to all and sounds like a great fit for an AI programmer. This can also be a huge leg-up in your career and help open the doors to better jobs. You can sign up via Github and create a user profile.

Registration: Subscribe to updates here to know more about the Halite AI Challenge.
5) AI Games: this one is definitely worth a mention and is a popular bot building competition with over 2932 active players. Participants can code bots in 22 coding languages such as C, Clojure, Common Lisp, C++, C#, D, Elixir, Go, Haskell, Java, JavaScript, Lua, Pascal, Perl, PHP, Prolog, Python, Python 3, Ruby, Rust and Scala.

What's the competition about: The competition is open to universities and companies alike and participants will have to code bots in games. You can see the current competitions here.

Takeaway: it is a fun way to develop coding skills, learn and interact with members from the community and earn prize money. According to AIGames, a total of 8160 Prize money has been awarded over the years.

Source: HOB