Amazon Offers $1 Million to the University Team That Builds AI That Can Chat
SAN FRANCISCO—Amazon is offering $1 million to the university team that builds an artificial intelligence that can keep up its side of the conversation with a human being for 20 minutes.
On Thursday, Amazon announced the Alexa Prize, a $1-million award for the creation of a conversational artificial intelligence that can talk to people “coherently and engagingly” for a third of an hour.
Such a system would be unprecedented “and at least five times more advanced than state-of-the-art conversational AI,” said Rohit Prasad, vice-president and head scientist of Amazon Alexa.
To aid the endeavour, up to 10 teams will get a $100,000-stipend from Amazon along with Alexa-enabled devices, free cloud computing and support from Amazon’s Alexa team.
Amazon hopes the prize will lead to scientific breakthroughs in conversational AI, especially helping computers learn, understand, communicate and engage in “commonsense reasoning,” the company said.
The push comes as Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa is coming to many platforms, beyond its original home on Amazon’s Echo speaker, and as artificial intelligence is anticipated to become the cutting edge of tech companies’ interfaces with their customers.
If no team meets the admittedly high bar, the team with the best performing “socialbot” will win $500,000.
The Alexa Prize announcement comes the same day several of the world’s largest tech companies announced the formation of a consortium aimed at fostering the promise of artificial intelligence.
Microsoft, Amazon, IBM, Google and Facebook have formed the Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society.