Alexa Prize announces $1 million SocialBot Grand Challenge 5
Next round of competition will add a science and innovation prize.
Amazon today announced the Alexa Prize SocialBot Grand Challenge 5 (SGC5), the latest in an ongoing university challenge focused on creating conversational socialbots that can speak coherently and engagingly with humans for 20 minutes on a range of current events and topics.
The Alexa Prize, launched in 2016, is a competition for university students dedicated to advancing the field of conversational AI. To meet the Grand Challenge, teams must earn a composite score of 4.0 or higher (out of 5) user rating and, in the final round, have judges find that at least two-thirds of their conversations with the socialbot remain coherent and engaging for 20 minutes.
In the most recent challenge, Team Alquist from Czech Technical University won the Alexa Prize SocialBot Grand Challenge 4 competition, and was awarded the $500,000 first prize for earning the top score in the finals competition.
Although none of last year’s teams met the Grand Challenge, each finalist demonstrated impressive progress toward the goal.
How to apply
Teams interested in applying must have a YouNoodle account, and complete the form. Applications will be open on July 6, and close October 5, 2022.
Science invention and innovation prize
This year, in an effort to sharpen the focus on science and to move the needle on conversational AI, university teams will not only compete for prizes related to overall performance, but also for a separate award for scientific invention and innovation.
For the science prize, teams will be asked to submit two-page summaries of their scientific experimentation and findings at the end of each phase of the competition. These summaries will be reviewed and evaluated by Amazon scientists based on their scientific and technical merit presented. Teams may be chosen to advance as wildcards to the next phase based on their overall scores or scientific innovation.
In addition, following the finals, a Science and Innovation Review Panel will meet to hear presentations from each team that made it to the semifinals. Each semifinalist team will be invited to make a presentation of their work, experimentation, and inventions and innovation stemming from the competition.
Those presentations will be followed by a Q&A panel comprised of distinguished Alexa AI scientists. Each presentation will be graded and three teams in this phase will be named innovation and invention winners. Those winning teams will earn cash prizes which will be paid out to the students on those teams: $250,000 for the first-place team, $50,000 for second, and $25,000 for third.
In addition, the prizes for overall performance in the competition will be $250,000 for the first-place team, $50,000 for second, and $25,000 for third. Those prizes will be paid out to the students on the teams with the best overall performance. The first team to meet the Grand Challenge will win a $1 million research grant for their university.
In response to feedback received from previous competitions, the Alexa Prize team has made improvements to its CoBot, Amazon’s Conversational Bot Toolkit for scientific research and experimentation, so university teams can spend more time focusing on scientific innovation.
CoBot provides easy-to-use tools and infrastructure designed to support research and development of conversational AI skills. It offers a single wrapper interface to three sets of tools: the Alexa Skills Kit, which lets third-party developers create new capabilities, or skills, for Alexa; a suite of cloud-computing services offered through Amazon Web Services; and the Alexa Prize Toolkit Service, which includes our natural-language-processing (NLP) models.
This year’s CoBot will include both modular and plug-and-play elements, available sample models, and more.
Key dates (tentative)
- July 6, 2022: Application period opens
- October 5, 2022: Application period closes
- November 2022: Competing teams announced
- Fall 2022: Teams onboarded, competition begins
- July 2023: Finals
- August 2023: Winners announced