The Alexa Prize is an annual competition designed to spur academic research and development in the field of conversational artificial intelligence. This year, students are working to build socialbots that can engage in a fun, high-quality conversation on popular societal topics for up to 20 minutes. In order to succeed at this task, the teams must innovate in a broad range of areas including knowledge acquisition, natural language understanding, natural language generation, context modeling, common-sense reasoning, and dialog planning. They use the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) to construct their bot and to receive real-time feedback on its performance.
Last month the socialbots from Heriot-Watt University (Alana), Czech Technical University (Alquist), and UC Davis (Gunrock) were chosen as the finalists (watch the Twitch stream to learn more). The competition was tough, with points assigned for the potential scientific contribution to the field, the technical merit of the approach, the overall novelty of the idea, and the team’s ability to deliver on their vision.
Time to Chat
We’re now ready for the final round.
Step up to your nearest Alexa-powered device and say “Alexa, let’s chat!” You will be connected to one of the three socialbots (chosen at random) and can converse with it for as long as you would like. When you are through, say “Alexa stop,” and rate the socialbot when prompted. You can also provide additional feedback for the team. We’ll announce the winner at AWS re:Invent 2018 in Las Vegas.