Amazon contest spurs college students to harness Alexa’s powers

In a bid to spur university students’ interest in the budding field of artificial intelligence, Amazon.com said Thursday unveiled the “Alexa Prize,” a competition for $2.5 million in awards named after its voice-powered digital assistant. The goal: to create a “socialbot” that will make Alexa chat breezily about news events and other mainstream topics. That will carry a $500,000 prize for the student team with the best bot — and a $1 million to the team members’ university if the bot can hold an interesting conversation for 20 minutes. In addition, Amazon will sponsor up to 10 teams and give each a $100,000 stipend and other freebies. Contestants will be able to draw content from the Washington Post, owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, for the exercise. The move shows…


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