Alexa, Talk Some Sense, Will You?

Amazon’s voice-controlled computer, Alexa, can be surprisingly useful for simple tasks like checking the weather or listening to a song. But it’s hardly a great conversationalist. A new $2.5 million prize announced by the e-commerce giant Thursday is meant to help make Alexa a bit chattier. Winning the prize, however, will require a pretty significant leap in machine understanding of language. Amazon wants researchers to develop apps to make Alexa capable of talking about a range of topics. The company will sponsor a number of research teams with $100,000 each, and will award $500,000 to the best bot of the lot. A further $1 million prize will be given if any team is able to develop a bot that can hold a conversation for 20 minutes. Various datasets will be made…


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