Amazon announced the 2018 teams selected to compete for the Alexa Prize, a $3.5 million university challenge to advance human-computer interaction. These teams have worked to create socialbots that can converse coherently and engagingly with humans on a range of current events and popular topics such as entertainment, sports, politics, technology, and fashion. Each university team participating in Alexa Prize 2018 received a $250,000 research grant, Alexa-enabled devices, free Amazon Web Services (AWS) to support their development efforts, and access to other tools, data, and Alexa team support.
Amazon received applications from leading universities from more than 15 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. Read the blog post on the team announcement.
Teams of university students will develop a socialbot, a new Alexa skill that converses with users on popular societal topics. Participating teams will advance the state-of-the-art in natural language understanding, dialogue and context modeling, and human-like language generation and expression.
Teams will build their bots using the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK), which will enable them to receive continuous feedback on their inventions in real-world settings. The grand challenge for the 2018 Alexa Prize is to create a socialbot that can engage in a fun, high quality conversation on popular societal topics for 20 minutes.
The way humans interact with machines is at an inflection point and conversational artificial intelligence (AI) is at the center of the transformation. Alexa, the voice service that powers Amazon Echo, enables customers to interact with the world around them in a more intuitive way using only their voice.
The Alexa Prize is an annual competition for university students dedicated to accelerating the field of conversational AI. The 2018 competition is focused on creating a socialbot, a new Alexa skill that converses coherently and engagingly with humans on popular topics and news events. Participating teams will advance several areas of conversational AI including knowledge acquisition, natural language understanding, natural language generation, context modeling, commonsense reasoning and dialog planning. Through the innovative work of students, Alexa customers will have novel, engaging conversations. And, the immediate feedback from Alexa customers will help students improve their algorithms much faster than previously possible.
"I believe the dreamers come first, and the builders come second. A lot of the dreamers are science fiction authors, they’re artists...They invent these ideas, and they get catalogued as impossible. And we find out later, well, maybe it’s not impossible. Things that seem impossible if we work them the right way for long enough, sometimes for multiple generations, they become possible."
First customer feedback period
Final customer feedback period
Competition concludes & winners announced