Amazon Alexa Prize Competing Teams include Students from Berkeley, Princeton and Carnegie …

The Alexa Prize is an annual competition for university students dedicated to accelerating the field of conversational AI.

Today, Amazon announced the sponsorship of 12 teams to participate in the Alexa Prize, an annual university competition dedicated to accelerating the field of conversational artificial intelligence (AI).

The Amazon Alexa Prize attracted students from the major US Universities including Berkeley, Princeton and Carnegie-Mellon. Of the 12 teams invited 7 are from the United States. 

“The response to the Alexa Prize challenge has been incredibly positive. With applications from over 100 incredibly well-qualified teams from 22 countries, we were unable to pick just 10 to sponsor,” said Rohit Prasad, Vice President and Head Scientist, Amazon Alexa. “We are eager to see what students from the 12 sponsored teams around the world—including one team of undergrads—create with Alexa.”

The goal of the inaugural competition is to have university teams build socialbots on Alexa that will converse with humans on popular topics and news events. The team with the highest-performing socialbot will win the $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.

In addition to receiving a $100,000 stipend for participating, the 12 teams selected for Amazon sponsorship will receive Alexa-enabled devices, free Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud computing services, and support from the Amazon Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) team. Students will build their socialbots using ASK, which tens of thousands of developers are already using to build new skills on Alexa.

More than one hundred teams from leading universities across 22 countries applied to participate in the Alexa Prize competition. The selected teams are:

Carnegie-Mellon University—Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Team Name: CMU Magnus

Carnegie-Mellon University—Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Team Name: TBD

Czech Technical University in Prague—Prague, Czech Republic; Team Name: eClub

Heriot-Watt University—Edinburgh, Scotland, UK; Team Name: WattSocialBot

Princeton University—Princeton, NJ, USA; Team Name: Princeton Alexa

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute—Troy, NY, USA; Team Name: BAKAbot

University of California, Berkeley—Berkeley, CA, USA; Team Name: Machine Learning @ Berkeley

University of California, Santa Cruz—Santa Cruz, CA, USA; Team Name: SlugBots

University of Edinburgh—Edinburgh, Scotland, UK; Team Name: Edina

University of Montreal—Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Team Name: MILA Team

University of Trento—Trento, Italy; Team Name: Roving Minds

University of Washington—Seattle, WA, USA; Team Name: HuskyBot

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 at AWS re:Invent in November 2017.