Just say, “Alexa, let’s chat”
Amazon’s Socialbot Grand Challenge asks universities around the world to improve their AI—in this case, how Alexa interacts with users.
In the Grand Challenge, each team creates their own version of Alexa as a socialbot. Amazon users can converse with them, and then give a rating from 1 to 5 on how they enjoyed the conversation. The length of conversation is also factored in to determine the finalists, whose bots are then evaluated by a panel of expert judges that determine the ultimate winners.
Each entrant team gets a $250K support grant to put towards the challenge during the academic year. This year’s Alexa Prize Grand Challenge winner went to Czech Technical University, who won $500,000. They were followed by Stanford University, winning $100,000, and University of Buffalo in third place, winning $50,000. They join past winners from schools including University of Washington, UC Davis and Emory University.
Want to try the socialbots out? It’s easy.
- Just say, “Alexa, let’s chat” and she’ll connect you with a socialbot
- Have a conversation with her, and then, when you’re done, say “Alexa, exit.” She will ask you to rate your experience, and add any advice you have for the team.
- If you want to experience different entries, say, “Alexa, let’s chat” again, and she’ll choose a different bot for you to chat with. The interactions are fun; in one conversation, we talked about movies and books; in another, we talked about our favorite sandwiches. (Alexa likes a BLT—good choice.)
Amazon says that socialbots have engaged with Alexa users in more than 900,000 hours of conversation, which leads to better AI experience for all us.