Artificial Intelligence

Amazon Launches $2.5 Million AI Contest for College Students

A new contest from Amazon aims to accelerate the field of conversational artificial intelligence (AI) and make its Alexa voice assistant even more chatty. The inaugural Alexa Prize contest challenges university and college students around the world to develop a “socialbot” that can that can hold a conversation with a human for 20 minutes.

Students will use the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) to build their socialbots. They will advance several areas of conversational AI, including “knowledge of acquisition, natural language understanding, natural language generation, context modeling, commonsense reasoning and dialog planning,” according to the Amazon announcement.

Amazon will award the following prizes:

  • Up to 10 teams will receive a $100,000 stipend, Alexa-enabled devices, free AWS services and support from the ASK team;
  • A $500,000 prize for the team that creates the best socialbot; and
  • A $1 million grand prize for the winning team’s college or university if they build a bot that can hold a coherent and engaging conversation “on popular topics” with a human for 20 minutes.

Teams can enter the contest between Sept. 29 and Oct. 28. On Nov. 14, participants will be announced and the competition will begin. 

To learn more about the Alexa Prize, visit the contest site.

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at sravipati@1105media.com.

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