Amazon has offered a $2.5 Million to the first team who develops Alexa to a conversational AI. The Alexa Prize will be given to the developers who turns Alexa, the voice service into a social AI capable of conversing with humans for 20 minutes.
What is the Alexa Prize?
The Alexa Prize, which was announced on Thursday by Amazon, is only open to college teams. The winning team will take home $500,000 USD along with a $1M research grant to the team's college or university. It's obvious that Amazon will have a royalty-free license of the talking AI.
The @Amazon Alexa challenge is ON! $2.5m up for grabs. Dream it - Build it - Win it. https://t.co/UavgJtqduI
— Gavin Jackson (@GavinPJackson1) October 1, 2016
How will the winning team be decided?
If you've watched Ex-Machina then you must be aware of the Turing Test. Well, the Alexa Prize will be given to the team who'd develop a chat bot that could pass this test. The Turing Test requires a human judge to differentiate between two conversation partners, one human and the other a computer. The Alexa Prize is a Turing Test because of the semantics (natural language conversation) involved.
Tips For Participants
It would be a fair advice for the participating teams to not use Twitter as their dataset. According to The Guardian, Microsoft did that and their chat-bot turned out to be racist. It'd be better to use Markov chains and raspberry pi in your means to Arduino this Bot.
Have you applied to the #AmazonAlexa Prize competition yet? https://t.co/16Nme7dIha pic.twitter.com/4escpRu0iu — Ted Hart Karczewski (@TeddyHK) September 29, 2016
Wait, there's more
Prizes for developing AI have been offered since the 1990s. The Loebner Prize, which is cosponsored by well known AI Developer Marvin Minsky, has already offered a prize of $100,000 along with a gold medal to the first computer that can't be distinguished from a human in talks. Prizes have been awarded yearly to the team whose computer is more like a human in comparison to its competition.
Such a system would more advance than any present conversational AI, said Rohit Prasad, vice president of Amazon Alexa. To aid the purpose, up to ten of the participating teams are to get Alexa-enabled devices, a $100,000 stipend, free cloud computing along with support from Amazon's Alexa team.
Amazon believes the prize will lead to new scientific breakthroughs in the field of conversational AI, by helping computers communicate and engage in reasoning. Teams interested in participating can submit their applications between Sep 29 and Oct 28, here.