Nine university teams selected to compete in the Alexa Prize Socialbot Grand Challenge 4

Fourth challenge features four new teams.

Amazon today announced that nine teams from around the globe have been selected to participate in the Alexa Prize Socialbot Grand Challenge 4 (SGC 4), a university challenge focused on advancing human-computer interaction.

The teams selected for the challenge, which begins this month, include five returning entrants, including the top three finishers in the most recent challenge, and four new contestants. 

TeamUniversityFaculty Advisor
Returning
AlquistCzech Technical University, PragueJan Šedivý
AthenaUniversity of California, Santa CruzMarilyn Walker
Chirpy CardinalStanford UniversityChristopher Manning
DREAMMoscow Institute of Physics & TechnologyMikhail Burtsev
EmoraEmory UniversityJinho Choi
New
CASPRThe University of Texas at DallasGopal Gupta
Genuine²Universidad Politécnica de MadridLuis Fernando D’Haro
PROTO
SUNY at Buffalo, New YorkRohini Srihari
ViolaUniversity of Southern CaliforniaJonathan May

“Voice assistants such as Alexa have significantly advanced the state of the art for goal-directed interactions, such as ‘Alexa, what’s the weather forecast for today’? or ‘What was the score of yesterday’s Seahawks game’? Significant recent advances include teachable AI and natural turn taking which lets multiple people join conversations with Alexa without having to use a wake word for every utterance. These advances notwithstanding, multi-turn, open-domain conversations remain an unsolved problem,” said Prem Natarajan, vice president of the Alexa AI Natural Understanding organization.

“We launched Alexa Prize four years ago with the aim of engaging some of the brightest faculty and students in academia to advance conversational AI science with an emphasis on open-domain conversations,” he added. “Each year, the teams have made substantial advances in the state of the art, and we are excited by the quality and ambition of the applications we have received this year.”

The Alexa Prize, launched in 2016, is a competition for university students dedicated to advancing the field of conversational AI. Teams are challenged to design socialbots that Alexa customers can interact with via Alexa-enabled devices. Their ultimate goal is to meet the Grand Challenge: earn a composite score of 4.0 or higher (out of 5) from the judges, and have the judges find that at least two-thirds of their conversations with the socialbot in the final round of judging remain coherent and engaging for 20 minutes.

Prem Natarajan
Prem Natarajan, Alexa AI vice president of natural understanding

The teams selected for the challenge receive a $250,000 research grant, Alexa-enabled devices, free Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud computing services to support their research and development efforts, access to the Cobot (conversational bot) toolkit and other tools, data, and Alexa team support.

In previous challenges, participating teams have improved the state of the art for open domain dialogue systems by developing improved natural language understanding (NLU) systems, neural response generation models, common sense knowledge modeling, and dialogue policies leading to smoother, and more engaging conversations.

Alexa Prize SGC4 begins this month, the teams’ socialbots will be available for Alexa customers to engage with early next year, a finals competition will be held in July 2021, and winners announced the following month. 

"This technology will be transformative in ways we can barely comprehend"

We asked a judge and some of the finalists from the Alexa Prize Grand Challenge 3 about the contest, the role of COVID-19, and the future of socialbots. Here's what they had to say.

As in the previous challenges, when the teams’ socialbots become available for use, Alexa customers will be able to engage with one of the socialbots simply by saying, “Alexa, let’s chat.” Alexa customers then receive a brief message informing them that they are interacting with an Alexa Prize university socialbot before being randomly connected to one of the participating socialbots. After exiting the conversation with the socialbot, which customers can do at any time, the customer is prompted for a verbal rating, followed by an option to provide additional feedback. The interactions, ratings and feedback are shared with the teams to help them improve their socialbots.

Over the course of the third challenge which concluded in June 2020, Alexa customers held more than 240,000 hours of conversations with the student teams’ socialbots, spanning tens of millions of interactions. The “Emora” team from Emory University won the third challenge, earning a $500,000 prize for its performance.  Teams from Stanford and Czech Technical University earned second- and third-place prizes, respectively.  The winning teams discussed their work in a recent video. Research papers from Amazon’s Alexa Prize team, and each of the competing teams can be downloaded here.

A team from the University of Washington won the first challenge, and in 2018 a team from the University of California, Davis won the $500,000 first prize.


US, WA, Seattle
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US, NJ, Newark
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US, NJ, Newark
Job summaryGood storytelling starts with great listening. At Audible, that means each role and every project has our audience in mind. Because the same people who design, develop, and deploy our products also happen to use them. To us, that speaks volumes.ABOUT THIS ROLEAudible seeks a Data Scientist who will help our marketing team improve paid marketing efficiency and performance. In this role, you will make the best of your skillset in modeling and general analytics. Modelling: use your knowledge of (un-) supervised learning, reinforcement learning, and simulation to explain, quantify, predict and prescribe. Analytics: use your knowledge of marketing and paid media to translate business and financial goals into insights and influence action. Overall: you will seek to create value for both stakeholders and customers and will convey results in a clear, actionable way to managers and senior leaders.As a Data Scientist, you will...· Will build analytical products end-to-end (decks, dashboards, data science models, simulations) at scale and at speed, from ideation and data extraction to presenting results to stakeholders (from manager to VP level).· Support development of models to optimize the Who, When, Where and How of all our conversations with customers and specifically to measure and optimize paid media.· Develop, maintain, and iterate on Amazon-scale data engineering and modelling pipelines.· Imagine and invent before the business asks, and create groundbreaking applications using cutting-edge approaches.· Contribute to the growth of the Audible Global Insights and Data Science team by sharing your ideas, intellectual property and learning from others.· Work closely with Audible stakeholders to drive the business forward, and deliver impactful models and analyses based on robust economic, financial, and statistical analysis.
US, MA, North Reading
Job summaryAre you an MS or PhD student interested in Robotics, Manipulation, Computer Vision, or Machine Learning? Do you enjoy diving deep into hard technical problems and coming up with solutions that enable successful products that improve the lives of people in a meaningful way?At Amazon Robotics, we strive to push boundaries in order to provide the best possible experience for our customers. We are looking for scientists striving to use their domain expertise to invent, design, evangelize, and implement state-of-the-art solutions for never-before-solved problems. As an Applied Scientist intern, you will have access to large datasets with billions of images and video to build large-scale machine learning systems. Additionally, you will analyze and model terabytes of text, images, and other types of data to solve real-world problems and translate business and functional requirements into quick prototypes or proofs of concept.As an Applied Scientist intern, you will work from concept through to execution. This role will give you the opportunity to build tools and support structures needed to analyze data, dive deep to resolve root cause of systems errors and changes, and present findings to business partners to drive improvements.Come build the future with us. Amazon internships are full-time (40 hours/week) for 12 or more consecutive weeks with start dates between May and June 2022.Amazon Robotics intern opportunities will be based in the Greater Boston Area, in our two state-of-the-art facilities in Westborough and North Reading, MA. Both campuses provide a unique opportunity for co-ops to have direct access to robotics testing labs and manufacturing facilities!
US, WA, Seattle
Job summaryAmazon’s Shipping and Delivery Support (SDS) team is a part of Amazon World Wide Customer Service dedicated to support successful package deliveries to Amazon Customers. As a Data Scientist on our team, you’ll use Amazon’s wealth of data to help answer tough questions like where and when preemptively intervening with a problem is most likely to result in a successful delivery, which signals should alert us that a delivery is at risk of missing its estimate, and what is the relative value of a specific set of support associate actions as they relate to delivery success. You will also leverage Amazon's rich datasets and machine learning techniques to understand customer urgency, and build algorithms to recommend treatment actions to optimize delivery outcome. This role will be a key member of the Shipping and Delivery Support Science Team.The Senior Data Scientist will work closely with Business Intelligence Engineers, Data Engineers, Product Managers, Software Engineers, and Program Managers to develop statistical and machinelearning models, design and run experiments, and find new ways to improve support experience to optimize the customer experience and Amazon’s on-time deliveries. The Scientist will collaborate with technology and product leaders to solve business and technology problems using scientific approaches to build new services that surprise and delight Amazon drivers and our customers. Science at Amazon is a highly experimental activity, although theoretical analysis and innovation are also welcome. Our scientists work closely with software engineers to put algorithms into practice. They also work on cross-disciplinary efforts with other scientists within Amazon.The key strategic objectives for this role include:· Understanding drivers, impacts, and key influences on delivery success and support contacts.· Optimizing support processes to improve the Customer experience and Amazon’s on time delivery.· Automating feedback loops for algorithms in production.· Collaborate with researchers, software developers, and business leaders to define product requirements and provide analytical support.· Utilizing Amazon systems and tools to effectively work with terabytes of data.· Communicating verbally and in writing to business customers and leadership team with various levels of technical knowledge, educating them about our systems, as well as sharing insights and recommendations
US, NY, New York
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US, WA, Seattle
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US, CA, Pasadena
Job summaryThe Amazon Web Services (AWS) Center for Quantum Computing in Pasadena, CA, is hiring a Quantum Research Scientist to join a multi-disciplinary, fast-paced team of theoretical and experimental physicists, materials scientists, and hardware and software engineers pushing the forefront of quantum computing. The candidate should demonstrate a thorough knowledge of experimental measurement techniques as well as quantum mechanics theory.Inclusive Team CultureHere at AWS, we embrace our differences. We are committed to furthering our culture of inclusion. We have ten employee-led affinity groups, reaching 40,000 employees in over 190 chapters globally. We have innovative benefit offerings, and host annual and ongoing learning experiences, including our Conversations on Race and Ethnicity (CORE) and AmazeCon (gender diversity) conferences.Work/Life BalanceOur team puts a high value on work-life balance. It isn’t about how many hours you spend at home or at work; it’s about the flow you establish that brings energy to both parts of your life. We believe striking the right balance between your personal and professional life is critical to life-long happiness and fulfillment. We offer flexibility in working hours and encourage you to find your own balance between your work and personal lives.Mentorship & Career GrowthOur team is dedicated to supporting new members. We have a broad mix of experience levels and tenures, and we’re building an environment that celebrates knowledge sharing and mentorship. Our senior members enjoy one-on-one mentoring and thorough, but kind, code reviews. We care about your career growth and strive to assign projects based on what will help each team member develop into a better-rounded engineer and enable them to take on more complex tasks in the future.Key job responsibilities* Contribute to fast-paced and agile research to help close the many orders of magnitude gap in gate error rates required for fault tolerant quantum computation* Design and perform experiments to characterize quantum devices in close collaboration with software and engineering teams* Develop models to understand and improve device performance* Effectively document results and communicate to a broad audience* Create robust software for implementation, automation, and analysis of measurements* Specify technical requirements in a cross-team collaboration using analytical arguments derived from physics theoryA day in the life* Analyze experimental data* Develop software to test and run new experiments on existing devices; collaborate with software engineers to achieve high code standard* Debug test setups to achieve high-quality data* Present results and cross-collaborate with others’ work* Perform code review for a colleague’s merge request
US, CA, Pasadena
Job summaryThe Amazon Web Services (AWS) Center for Quantum Computing in Pasadena, CA, is looking to hire a Quantum Research Scientist in the Test and Measurement group. You will join a multi-disciplinary team of theoretical and experimental physicists, materials scientists, and hardware and software engineers working at the forefront of quantum computing. You should have a deep and broad knowledge of experimental measurement techniques.Candidates with a track record of original scientific contributions will be preferred. We are looking for candidates with strong engineering principles, resourcefulness and a bias for action, superior problem solving, and excellent communication skills. Working effectively within a team environment is essential. As a research scientist you will be expected to work on new ideas and stay abreast of the field of experimental quantum computation.Inclusive Team CultureHere at AWS, we embrace our differences. We are committed to furthering our culture of inclusion. We have ten employee-led affinity groups, reaching 40,000 employees in over 190 chapters globally. We have innovative benefit offerings, and host annual and ongoing learning experiences, including our Conversations on Race and Ethnicity (CORE) and AmazeCon (gender diversity) conferences.Work/Life BalanceOur team puts a high value on work-life balance. It isn’t about how many hours you spend at home or at work; it’s about the flow you establish that brings energy to both parts of your life. We believe striking the right balance between your personal and professional life is critical to life-long happiness and fulfillment. We offer flexibility in working hours and encourage you to find your own balance between your work and personal lives.Mentorship & Career GrowthOur team is dedicated to supporting new members. We have a broad mix of experience levels and tenures, and we’re building an environment that celebrates knowledge sharing and mentorship. Our senior members enjoy one-on-one mentoring and thorough, but kind, code reviews. We care about your career growth and strive to assign projects based on what will help each team member develop into a better-rounded engineer and enable them to take on more complex tasks in the future.Key job responsibilitiesIn this role, you will drive improvements in qubit performance by characterizing the impact of environmental and material noise on qubit dynamics. This will require designing experiments to assess the role of specific noise sources, ensuring the collection of statistically significant data, analyzing the results, and preparing clear summaries for the team. Finally, you will work with hardware engineers, material scientists, and circuit designers to implement changes which mitigate the impact of the most significant noise sources.
US, MA, Cambridge
Job summaryThe Alexa Artificial Intelligence (AI) team is looking for a passionate, talented, and inventive Applied Scientist with a strong machine learning background, to help build industry-leading Speech and Language technology.Key job responsibilitiesAs an Applied Scientist with the Alexa AI team, you will work with talented peers to develop novel algorithms and modeling techniques to advance the state of the art in spoken language understanding. Your work will directly impact our customers in the form of products and services that make use of speech and language technology. You will leverage Amazon’s heterogeneous data sources and large-scale computing resources to accelerate advances in spoken language understanding.About the teamThe Alexa AI team has a mission to push the envelope in Natural Language Understanding (NLU). Specifically, we focus on incremental learning, continual learning and fairness, in order to provide the best-possible experience for our customers.