$2.5 Million to Advance Conversational Artificial IntelligenceSeptember 2016 – November 2017
Amazon is excited to announce the finalists competing in the 2017 Alexa Prize. Congratulations to Alquist from the Czech Technical University in Prague, Sounding Board from the University of Washington, and What's up Bot from Heriot-Watt University!
The entire Amazon Alexa organization wants to thank all of the Alexa Prize teams for their creativity, passion and contributions to both AI science and delighting Alexa customers.
During the semifinals period, which started on July 1 and ended on August 15, 2017, Alexa customers interacted with the socialbots by saying “Alexa, let’s chat” to any Alexa powered device. Competing socialbots were anonymously invoked in response to this utterance. At the end of the interaction, customers were prompted to provide a rating from 1 to 5 stars (5 being the highest) on how they felt about speaking with that socialbot again. These customer ratings determined two of the teams moving on to the finals - Alquist from the Czech Technical University in Prague and Sounding Board from the University of Washington in Seattle. Amazon also selected a wildcard finalist - What's up Bot from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. To learn more about the detailed evaluation criteria, please go here.
Amazon will sponsor 12 university teams to compete in the 2016-2017 Alexa Prize. This year’s inaugural competition focuses on the grand challenge of building a socialbot that can converse coherently and engagingly with humans on popular topics for 20 minutes. The sponsored teams will receive a $100,000 stipend, Alexa-enabled devices, free Amazon Web Services (AWS) services to support their development efforts, and support from the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) team.
Amazon received over one hundred applications from leading universities across 22 countries.
All applications were reviewed and evaluated based on the following criteria: the potential scientific contribution to the field, the technical merit of the approach, the novelty of the idea, and the team’s ability to execute against their plan.
Carnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburgh, PA, USA Faculty Advisor: Alan Black
Carnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburgh, PA, USA Faculty Advisor: Alexander Rudnicky
Czech Technical University
Heriot-Watt UniversityEdinburgh, Scotland, UK Faculty Advisor: Oliver Lemon
Princeton UniversityPrinceton, NJ, USA Faculty Advisor: Sanjeev Arora
University of California,
University of California,
University of EdinburghEdinburgh, Scotland, UK Faculty Advisor: Bonnie Webber
University of MontrealMontréal, Quebec, CA Faculty Advisor: Yoshua Bengio
University of TrentoTrento, IT Faculty Advisor: Giuseppe Riccardi
University of WashingtonSeattle, WA, USA Faculty Advisor: Mari Ostendorf
Brandeis UniversityWaltham, MA, USA Faculty Advisor: Marie Meteer
Columbia UniversityNew York, NY, USA Faculty Advisor: Ansaf Salleb-Aouissi
Emory UniversityAtlanta, GA, USA Faculty Advisor: Eugene Agichtein
Harvard UniversityCambridge, MA, USA Faculty Advisor: TBD
Seoul National UniversitySeoul, South Korea Faculty Advisor: Kyomin Jung
University of BonnBonn, Germany Faculty Advisor: Jens Lehmann
The team with the highest-performing socialbot will win a $500,000 prize. Additionally, a prize of $1 million will be awarded to the winning team's university if their socialbot achieves the grand challenge of conversing coherently and engagingly with humans on popular topics for 20 minutes.
Beginning in April 2017, as part of the research and judging process, millions of Alexa customers will have the opportunity to converse with the socialbots on popular topics. The feedback from Alexa users will be a factor in selecting the best socialbots to advance to the finals. Winners will be announced at a special session at re:Invent 2017, a global cloud computing conference hosted by Amazon Web Services.