Advancing open domain dialog: The Fifth Alexa Prize SocialBot Grand Challenge
Creating conversational dialog systems that are able to converse naturally and engagingly with humans on any topic remains one of the fundamental challenges of artificial intelligence. The Alexa Prize SocialBot Grand Challenge was launched in 2016 to take on the problem of enabling conversational systems to support natural, sustained, coherent, and compelling open-domain dialog. The competition enables university teams from around the world to test their innovations at scale with Alexa customers. The 5th SocialBot Grand Challenge (SGC5) expanded the competition to include both a live judged competition on system performance and a Science and Innovation prize to acknowledge the underlying scientific achievements. SGC5 also added multimodality to the challenge and encouraged teams to augment their open-domain conversations with multimedia content and multimodal interaction. The challenge included an extensively updated version of the CoBot (Conversational Bot) Toolkit, along with numerous models and APIs, including topic and intent classifiers, offensive content classifiers, pre-trained neural response generators and rankers, and multimodal support so that teams could land running and focus on building compelling multimodal conversational experiences. Use of large language models (LLMs) was a key theme in the fifth iteration of the competition and, in addition to neural response generators fine-tuned on previous Alexa Prize conversations, we provided APIs and fine-tuning capabilities enabling teams to make use of the 20 billion parameter Alexa Teacher Model LLM. The paper describes the operation of the competition and capabilities provided to teams. We outline and summarize the advances developed both by university teams and the Alexa Prize team in pursuit of the Grand Challenge objective, including use of LLMs and instruction prompting for dialog control, synthetic data and knowledge generation, multimedia response generation, and dialog evaluation. As of the end of the final feedback phase, the top 7-day average rating achieved by a SocialBot was 3.50 overall with a conversation duration in the top 90th percentile of 9 minutes 8 seconds. To highlight the importance of integrating Michael Johnstonmultimedia into the conversations this year, for that day the top 7-day average rating by a SocialBot for multimodal conversations was 3.54 with a 90th percentile conversation duration of 14 minutes 27 seconds.