Today, we announced the 2018 teams selected to compete for the Alexa Prize, a $3.5 million university challenge to advance human-computer interaction.

The teams will create socialbots that can converse coherently and engagingly with humans on a range of current events and popular topics such as entertainment, sports, politics, technology and fashion. In the video above, Ashwin Ram, senior manager Alexa AI and Lead, Alexa Prize, explains the challenges in creating a socialbot.

A portrait of Rohit Prasad, vice president and head scientist, Alexa AI. He is wearing a black shirt and is photographed against a blue background.
Rohit Prasad, vice president and head scientist, Alexa AI

“Alexa Prize is a unique academia-industry collaboration to advance the state of the art in conversational AI,” said Rohit Prasad, vice president and head scientist of Amazon’s Alexa Machine Learning organization. “Year one of the Alexa Prize socialbot competition established a strong baseline for natural conversations. This year we are looking forward to advancing the technology even further and simultaneously delighting millions and millions of customers.”

Each university team participating in Alexa Prize 2018 will receive a $250,000 research grant, Alexa-enabled devices, free Amazon Web Services (AWS) to support their development efforts, and access to other tools, data and Alexa team support.

See the 2017 Alexa Prize challenge results.