We’ve hit another milestone in the Alexa Prize, a $2.5 million university competition to advance conversational AI. University teams from around the world have been hard at work to create a socialbot, an AI capable of conversing coherently and engagingly with humans on popular topics and news events for 20 minutes. 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. Amazon also selected a wildcard finalist.
I am now excited to announce the university teams that will be competing in the finals! After hundreds of thousands of conversations, the two socialbots with the highest average customer ratings during the semifinal period are Alquist from the Czech Technical University in Prague and Sounding Board from the University of Washington in Seattle. The wildcard team is What’s up Bot from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Amazon chose the wildcard finalist based on a combination of the following criteria:
- Ratings from Alexa customers
- Ratings from Amazon judges
- Depth and breadth of topics covered
- Appropriateness and accuracy of responses
- Scientific merit as determined by the content of the technical paper
Congratulations to Alquist, Sounding Board, and What’s up Bot! These three teams improved an average of 27% from the first public launch on May 8, 2017, through the end of semifinals. Beginning August 31, you can experience their socialbots by saying “Alexa, let’s chat” to any Alexa powered device.
On behalf of the entire Amazon Alexa organization, I want to thank all of the Alexa Prize teams for their creativity, passion and contributions to both AI science and delighting Alexa customers. We will be publishing their technical papers in the First Annual Alexa Prize Proceedings to enable all teams to share their innovative ideas with the scientific community.
The journey doesn’t end here. Over the next couple of months, your interactions and feedback will still be crucial to helping the three finalists continue to improve their socialbots. We will announce the winner of the 2017 Alexa Prize at AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas. We look forward to having you join the Alexa Prize community to support them along the way.
Follow the #AlexaPrize hashtag and bookmark our site for updates.
Congratulations again to the Alexa Prize finalists from Czech Technical University, University of Washington, and Heriot-Watt University!