A while back I wrote about the Alexa Prize, a university competition where participating teams are creating socialbots focused on advancing computer to human interaction. We are now in year two, heading into the final stretch for 2018 and I thought I would give everyone an update.

For those who aren't familiar, Alexa Prize teams use customer feedback to advance several areas of conversational AI, with the grand challenge being a socialbotthat can engage coherently for 20 minutes in a fun, high-quality conversation on popular topics such as entertainment, sports, technology, and fashion. Teams are thinking big about how to make strides in areas including knowledge acquisition, natural language understanding and generation, context modeling, common sense reasoning, and dialog planning.

On July 2, the eight 2018 Alexa Prize teams, from universities around the world, entered the semifinals phase of the competition. In mid-August the two teams with the highest average customer ratings will automatically advance to the finals round. At least one other team will be selected by Amazon based on their socialbot's relevance, coherence, interestingness, speed, and scientific merit. While a mix of innovation, passion, and creativity fuels teams, customer engagement is key for them to reach their goals. Your interactions and feedback will be crucial to helping teams continue to improve their socialbots into the finals round.

To be part of the conversation, simply say "Alexa let's chat" on any Alexa-enabled device and start your Alexa Prize journey. To date, customers have already logged thousands of hours of conversation with the eight different socialbots currently available.

To end a conversation, simply say "Stop." You will then be prompted to provide a verbal rating and feedback. You can easily try multiple socialbots just by saying "Alexa, let's chat" again.

To learn more about the Alexa Prize, go to: www.alexaprize.com

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