Alexa is the voice service that powers devices such as Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Amazon Tap, Amazon Fire TV and other third-party devices through the Alexa Voice Service including Nucleus, Sonos and Pebble Core. Alexa provides capabilities that enable customers to interact with devices in a more intuitive way using voice. Examples of these capabilities, or skills, include smart home products, the ability to play music, answer general questions, set an alarm or timer, and thousands more. Alexa is built in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud and it is always getting smarter. The more customers use Alexa, the more she adapts to speech patterns, vocabulary, and personal preferences.
The Alexa Prize, an annual university competition dedicated to accelerating the field of conversational artificial intelligence (AI), was created to recognize students from around the globe who are changing the way we interact with technology. The goal is to advance several areas of conversational AI including knowledge acquisition, natural language understanding (NLU), natural language generation (NLG), 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.Back to top
The goal of the challenge is to advance several areas of conversational AI including knowledge acquisition, natural language understanding (NLU), natural language generation (NLG), context modeling, commonsense reasoning and dialog planning. The grand challenge for the 2017 Alexa Prize is to create a socialbot that converses coherently and engagingly with humans on popular topics for 20 minutes.
Midway through the competition, a semifinal round will take place in which an Amazon panel and Amazon Alexa customers will evaluate all socialbots that have been certified and published. Two socialbots selected by Amazon Alexa customers and at least one socialbot selected by the Amazon panel will advance to the finals.
During the finals in November of 2017, the finalist teams will compete head-to-head in front of three judges. The judges will score the socialbots on their ability to converse coherently and engagingly with humans on popular topics for 20 minutes.
No. The goal of the Alexa Prize is to create socialbots that engage in interesting, human-like conversations, not to make them indistinguishable from a human when compared side-by-side. While the socialbots built for the Alexa Prize will be human-like in some respects, they will be very different in others, and could easily reveal themselves in a Turing Test. For example, socialbots may have ready access to much more information than a human. Asking the socialbots to act human could diminish the customer experience and hinder the efforts of the participants to build the best socialbot to further conversational AI.
The final judging will be held in November 2017 at a location to be determined. Winners will be announced at a special session at re:Invent 2017, a global cloud computing conference hosted by Amazon Web Services.
Yes, you may use other funding to support your team. External funding will need to be disclosed by August 15, 2017.
Your team will build its socialbot with new Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) APIs created specifically for the Alexa Prize, AWS Lambda, and your choice of AWS or other web services.
Customers, in the U.S., will speak with your socialbot via an Alexa-enabled device. Your socialbot will receive text output from Alexa’s automatic speech recognition (ASR) algorithms and produce a text response which will be spoken back to the customer via Alexa’s text to speech (TTS) system.
Your team may build its socialbot in any framework of your choosing, but the socialbot must be hosted on AWS Lambda to leverage the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK).
By March 31, 2017, your team will be required to submit its socialbot for certification and publication by the Amazon Alexa team. This will allow Amazon Alexa customers to try your socialbot and provide feedback to you.
Your team must build its socialbot using U.S. English.
Amazon will subsidize travel and lodging expenses for up to three members per finalist team plus their faculty advisor to travel from the city where their university is located to attend the awards ceremony at AWS re:Invent 2017.
Yes. Publishing research papers as an outcome of your work on the Alexa Prize is required for all teams participating in the competition, although teams should not publish Amazon confidential information, as described in the Official Rules. The Alexa Prize requires all teams to submit a 6-page paper for the Alexa Prize proceedings prior to August 15, 2017. Your socialbot will not be selected for the finals if your team does not submit a technical paper for Alexa Prize proceedings. Papers will be published at AWS re:Invent 2017.
Teams may also publish research papers in third-party publications and conferences, as long as all papers are provided to Amazon for review at least two weeks before the submission deadlines and no research papers are published before AWS re:Invent 2017 without Amazon’s prior approval.
You will retain ownership over your socialbot. Amazon will have a non-exclusive license to any technology or software you develop in connection with the competition. See the Official Rules for details.Back to top
The Alexa Prize is open to full-time students enrolled in an accredited university, with the exception of universities in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, and the region of Crimea (see contest rules). Proof of enrollment will be required to participate.
No. The 2017 Alexa Prize is open only to full-time enrolled university students.
All participating team members must remain full-time students in good standing at their university until the competition ends in November 2017.
Participants must be at or above the age of majority in the country, state, province or jurisdiction of residence at the time of entry.
Immediate family members and household members of Amazon employees, directors and contractors are not eligible to participate. See Official Rules for additional restrictions.Back to top
All applications will be reviewed and evaluated by a panel of Amazon experts. Up to 10 teams will be selected and sponsored by Amazon. Additional teams not eligible for funding may be invited to participate.
Teams not eligible for funding, but invited to participate, will have access to the new Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) APIs created specifically for the Alexa Prize which will enable them to receive continuous feedback on their inventions in real-world settings. We also encourage all non-sponsored teams to take advantage of the AWS Free Tier (which includes AWS Lambda).
The AWS Free Tier is designed to enable hands-on experience with AWS Cloud Services. The AWS Free Tier includes services with a free tier available for 12 months, as well as additional service offers that do not automatically expire at the end of the 12 month AWS Free Tier term.
After creating an AWS account you can use any of the products and services listed here, for free within certain usage limits.
There are no minimum or maximum team member requirements. All team members must be enrolled in their university throughout the duration of the competition. Sponsored teams will receive a $100,000 stipend regardless of how many members are on the team.
Teams must be comprised of students attending the same university.
Yes, universities may have more than one team.
You can only be a part of one team for the duration of the competition.
Yes, teams may be comprised of undergraduate and graduate students.
All teams must nominate a faculty advisor and include the faculty advisor’s consent in the applications.
Faculty advisors will advise students on technical directions and be a sounding board for new ideas, similar to a graduate school advisor. They will also act as the official representative from the university for this competition.
No additional team members will be added through the course of the competition. A member may drop from the team. In that scenario, the faculty advisor may suggest a replacement team member, subject to approval by Amazon.Back to top
Begin the application here
Once you have selected your team members, team leader, and faculty sponsor, you are ready to begin the application process. To see the questions, you can preview a PDF of the online application.
Each team must have a team lead, who should apply on behalf of the whole team. Your application must include all of your team members’ information.
There is no application fee.
All applications will be reviewed by a panel of Amazon employees. Teams will be selected based on the following criteria: (1) the potential scientific contribution to the field; (2) the technical merit of the approach; (3) the novelty of the idea; and (4) an assessment of the team’s ability to execute against their plan.Back to top
A prize of $500,000 will be awarded to team that creates the best socialbot. See contest rules for details.
A prize of a $1 million research grant will be awarded to the winning team’s university if their socialbot achieves the grand challenge of conversing coherently and engagingly with humans for 20 minutes.
Up to 10 teams will be sponsored to participate in the Alexa Prize. These teams’ universities will receive $100,000 as a research grant to fund the team members’ work over the year.
The sponsorship includes one Alexa-enabled device per team member for up to a total of three devices per team and one Alexa-enabled device per faculty advisor, free AWS services to support the development of their socialbot and support from the Alexa team.
In the event your team can no longer participate, your faculty advisor may use those funds to support a new team for the rest of the competition period. Stipends will be awarded in two installments of $50,000 payable to the university. If your team withdraws before the second installment, funds will not be transferred to the university.
The $500,000 prize will be distributed equally among all registered team members. Failure to disclose a team member on the application form will disqualify your team.Back to top
Teams must submit their applications between September 29 and October 28, 2016. On November 14, 2016, we will announce teams selected to receive sponsorships. In the spring of 2017 teams will be invited to an Alexa Prize Summit at Amazon where they will receive live feedback to improve their socialbots. The semifinals will be scheduled in August 2017. The final event of the competition will take place in November 2017.
We will reach out to all teams starting on November 14, 2016, with instructions on next steps. Up to 10 teams will be selected to receive a $100,000 stipend, Alexa-enabled devices, free AWS services to support their development efforts, and support from the Alexa team. Additional teams not eligible for funding may be invited to participate.