On September 29, 2016, Amazon announced the Alexa Prize, a $2.5 million university competition to advance conversational AI through voice. Last month, university teams from around the world assembled at the appropriately named Day 1 building in Seattle for the Alexa Prize Summit. The event was a base camp for teams to share learnings and make preparations for the most challenging leg of their journey: to build and scale an AI capable of conversing coherently and engagingly with humans for 20 minutes on popular topics and news events such as entertainment, fashion, politics, sports, and technology.
Even as we begin to create AI that can drive cars, play board games, recognize faces, and diagnose diseases, the seemingly intuitive task of everyday social conversation remains beyond our reach. Undaunted, our student teams have geared up to tackle the challenge. As they build their “socialbots,” they will encounter esoteric problems like context modeling and dialog planning as well as exoteric problems like user experience and conversational engagement. And they will need all the help they can get.
We invite you to join the students on their journey and help them along the way. You can interact with their socialbots simply by saying, “Alexa, let’s chat” on any device with Alexa. You will be connected to one of the 16 socialbots at random. Chat about your favorite topics, say, “Stop” when you’re done, and share your feedback. It is still early days in this pioneering journey and we know the teams will appreciate your help and patience as they learn, iterate, and build new interactive conversational experiences. The socialbots will improve quickly. Enjoy interacting with them today and every day.
As we say at Amazon, the teams are going to work hard, have fun, and make history. We look forward to having you join the Alexa Prize community to support them along the way.
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