Introduction to the Alexa Prize Proceedings
With the launch of Alexa in 2014, Amazon sparked a renaissance in conversational AI. Combining far-field speech recognition with state-of-the-art natural language understanding, Alexa captured the imagination of millions of users worldwide. All of them had discovered that speech is, indeed, the most natural of user interfaces! In the summer of 2015, the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) was launched with the goal of democratizing access to conversational AI. Using ASK, a developer with no experience in speech recognition or natural language understanding could integrate existing web services with Alexa or even build entirely new experiences designed around voice. Subsequently, in the fall of 2016, Amazon announced the Alexa Prize Socialbot Grand Challenge - a competition for university students dedicated to accelerating advances in conversational AI.