With the increasing use of AI in everyday life, fairness in artificial intelligence is a topic of increasing importance across academia, government, and industry. Here at Amazon, the fairness of the machine learning systems we build to support our businesses is critical to establishing and maintaining our customers’ trust.
Today we are excited to announce that we are working with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to commit up to $10 million each in research grants over the next three years focused on fairness in AI.
AI technologies are contributing to economic growth and have the potential to improve the world around us. To ensure that these positive benefits are realized, we believe we must work closely with academic researchers to develop innovative solutions that address issues of fairness, transparency, and accountability and to ensure that biases in data don’t get embedded in the systems we create.
NSF and Amazon are working together to support computational research focused on fairness in AI, with the goal of contributing to trustworthy AI systems that are readily accepted and deployed to tackle grand challenges facing society. Specific topics of interest include but are not limited to transparency, explainability, accountability, potential adverse biases and effects, mitigation strategies, validation of fairness, and considerations of inclusivity. Funded projects will help to enable broadened acceptance of AI systems, helping the U.S. further capitalize on the potential of AI technologies. Although Amazon provides partial funding for this program, NSF will make award determinations independently and in accordance with NSF’s merit review process.
“We are excited to announce this new collaboration with Amazon to fund research focused on fairness in AI,” said Jim Kurose, NSF's head for Computer and Information Science and Engineering. “This program will support research related to the development and implementation of trustworthy AI systems that incorporate transparency, fairness, and accountability into the design from the beginning.”
Moving forward, NSF and Amazon intend to continue the program with calls for additional proposals in 2020 and 2021.
Researchers can find more information on the program and review the call for proposals on NSF.gov. Letters of Intent must be submitted by May 10, 2019, for consideration. Research funded under the joint Amazon-NSF fairness program is expected to result in open-source tools, publicly available datasets, and publications that are widely accessible.
Prem Natarajan is vice president of natural understanding in the Alexa AI group.
On September 29, 2016, Amazon announced the Alexa Prize, a $2.5 million university competition to advance conversational AI through voice. We received applications from leading universities across 22 countries. Each application was carefully reviewed by senior Amazon personnel against a rigorous set of criteria covering scientific contribution, technical merit, novelty, and ability to execute. Teams of scientists, engineers, user experience designers, and product managers read, evaluated, discussed, argued, and finally selected the ten teams who would be invited to participate in the competition. Wait, make that twelve; we received so many good applications from graduate and undergraduate students that we decided to sponsor two additional teams.
Today, we’re excited to announce the 12 teams selected to compete with an Amazon sponsorship. In alphabetical order, they are:
These teams will each receive a $100,000 research grant as a stipend, Alexa-enabled devices, free Amazon Web Services (AWS) services to support their development efforts, access to new Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) APIs, and support from the Alexa team. Teams invited to participate without sponsorship will be announced on December 12, 2016.[Read More]
Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming ubiquitous. With advances in technology, algorithms, and sheer compute power, it is now becoming practical to utilize AI techniques in many everyday applications including transportation, healthcare, gaming, productivity, and media. Yet one seemingly intuitive task for humans still eludes computers: natural conversation. Simple and natural for humans, voice communication in everyday language continues to be one of the ultimate challenges for AI. Human conversation requires the ability to understand the meaning of spoken language, relate that meaning to the context of the conversation, create a shared understanding and world view between the parties, model discourse and plan conversational moves, maintain semantic and logical coherence across turns, and to generate natural speech.
Today, we are pleased to announce the Alexa Prize, a $2.5 million university competition to advance conversational AI through voice. Teams of university students around the world are invited to participate in the Alexa Prize (see contest rules for details). The challenge is to create a socialbot, an Alexa skill that converses coherently and engagingly with humans on popular topics for 20 minutes. We challenge teams to invent an Alexa socialbot smart enough to engage in a fun, high quality conversation on popular topics for 20 minutes.
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. Alexa users will experience truly novel, engaging conversational interactions.
Up to ten teams of students will be selected to receive a $100,000 research grant as a stipend, Alexa-enabled devices, free AWS services to support their development efforts, and support from the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) team. Additional teams not eligible for funding may be invited to participate. University teams can submit their applications between September 29 and October 28, 2016, here. The competition will officially start on November 14, 2016 and run until November 2017, concluding with an award ceremony to be held at AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas, NV.
As we say at Amazon, this is Day 1 for conversational AI. We are excited to see where you will go next, and to be your partners in this journey. Good luck to all of the teams.
Learn more about Alexa Prize.