Summary of “Inside Amazon’s $3.5 million competition to make Alexa chat like a human”

On the face of it, Amazon isn’t asking much: just create a chatbot using Alexa that can talk to a human for 20 minutes without messing up, and you get a $1.5 million prize.
Prasad says he hopes the Alexa Prize will have a similar effect on conversational AI. Each of this year’s eight teams, selected from universities around the world, will be building their chatbots using Amazon’s resources: basic speech recognition tools from Alexa, free computing power from Amazon Web Services, and stacks of training data from tens of millions of Alexa users.
Teams get to compete, and Amazon gets to pick talent Amazon isn’t doing this simply for the benefit of the academic community, of course.
As Prasad notes: “Every technology built as part of the Alexa Prize is applicable to Alexa.” When I ask the teams about this none of them felt they were being taken advantage of.
For the teams at this year’s Alexa Prize, there are two basic approaches for solving this huge task.
The team responsible for the voice assistant isn’t just making new features for consumers; they’re also building tools so other companies can use Alexa for their own products and services.
Talking to teams at the Alexa Prize, it’s clear that the AI community is dreaming much, much bigger than this.
The techniques being developed by the teams at this year’s Alexa Prize are ingenious and worthy of praise, but chatbots still have a long way to go before they match humanity in its gift of the gab.

The orginal article.