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Amazon Hosts Duel to Make Alexa Social

Olivia Long - September 29, 2016 - 02:39 PM
Amazon Hosts Duel to Make Alexa Social
Amazon is offering $2.5 million to the college student who succeeds at making its Alexa bot more social.

(CCM) — Alexa can add events to a user's calendar and play their favorite song, but the bot is not so great at holding conversations — and Amazon would like to change that. The technology behemoth is offering a prize of $2.5 million to the college student who is able to improve Alexa's conversational skills the most, according to reports by Business Insider. The goal of the year-long competition, aptly named Alexa Prize, is to create a social app that allows Alexa to hold discussions about popular topics and news events without sounding like a machine. "This challenge and the immediate feedback students will receive on their best ideas from millions of engaged Alexa customers will make what we previously thought impossible, possible," said Rohit Prasad, Amazon Alexa's Vice President and Head Scientist, in a statement.

Amazon will begin accepting applications starting today, with submissions closing on Oct. 28. By mid-November, Amazon will announce the ten teams who will receive a $100,000 stipend to build their product; by next November, the final winner will be selected and will receive an additional $500,000 cash prize. The winner will also be eligible for an addition $1 million given to their university if the app that they built proves that it can "converse coherently and engagingly with humans for 20 minutes."

Image: © Eric Broder Van Dyke - Shutterstock.com
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