Amazon has selected 12 teams to participate in the Alexa Prize, an annual university competition dedicated to accelerating the field of conversational artificial intelligence.
It was originally supposed to be 10 teams but the company says there was too much talent to deny. More than one hundred teams from leading universities across 22 countries applied to participate in the Alexa Prize competition.
“The response to the Alexa Prize challenge has been incredibly positive,” said Rohit Prasad, Vice President and Head Scientist, Amazon Alexa.”With applications from over 100 incredibly well-qualified teams from 22 countries, we were unable to pick just 10 to sponsor.”
The selected teams are:
- Carnegie-Mellon University—USA; Team Name: CMU Magnus
- Carnegie-Mellon University—USA; Team Name: TBD
- Czech Technical University in Prague—Czech Republic; Team Name: eClub
- Heriot-Watt University—Scotland, UK; Team Name: WattSocialBot
- Princeton University—USA; Team Name: Princeton Alexa
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute—USA; Team Name: BAKAbot
- University of California, Berkeley—USA; Team Name: Machine Learning @ Berkeley
- University of California, Santa Cruz—USA; Team Name: SlugBots
- University of Edinburgh—Scotland, UK; Team Name: Edina
- University of Montreal—Canada; Team Name: MILA
- University of Trento—Italy; Team Name: Roving Minds
- University of Washington—USA; Team Name: HuskyBot
The goal of the inaugural competition is to have university teams build social bots on Alexa that will converse with humans on popular topics and news events. The team with the highest-performing socialbot will win a $500,000 prize. Additionally, an award of $1 million will be granted to the winning team’s school if their socialbot achieves the grand challenge of conversing coherently and engagingly for 20 minutes.
“We are eager to see what students from the 12 sponsored teams around the world—including one team of undergrads—create with Alexa,” said Prasad.
Beginning in April 2017, as part of the research and judging process, millions of Alexa customers will have the opportunity to converse with the socialbots on popular topics. The feedback from Alexa users will be a factor in selecting the best socialbots to advance to the finals. The winning university team will be announced in November 2017.