The student team Alquist under the leadership of Ing. Jan Šedivý from CIIRC will participate once again in the finals of the Alexa Prize, a competition held for the second time by American online-market giant Amazon. As in the previous year, chatbot Alquist won the first place in the semifinals. The goal of the global university competition is to develop a socialbot for Amazon Echo device that is capable of understanding and responding to human conversation.
Students (Jan Pichl, Petr Marek, Jakub Konrad, Martin Matulik and Petr Lorenc) from FEL CTU and FIT CTU overcame seven competing renowned universities in the semi-final round. In the finals, they will compete against the Heriot-Watt University (Edinburgh), which ended up third in the last year of the competition, and the University of California Davis, one of the top public universities in the US. For the second time, the CTU team has also become the only team from the non-English-speaking country in the finals of the competition.
The final battle will take place in Las Vegas from 26 to 30 November at the re:Invent 2018 conference. In the semifinal round (from 2 July to 15 August), the Amazon Alexa users evaluated all eight of the semifinal chatbots anonymously. They could assess them by 1-5 stars. Tens of thousands of conversations took place just with Alquist itself during the semifinal round, and finally, it received the best rating from all competing bots. The first two teams proceeded to the finals according to the user rating, and one of the remaining universities received a wild card from the Alexa Prize jury. Users can still talk with the three socialbots in the finals by saying “Alexa, let’s chat” to their Echo device.
In the Alexa Prize, a 3,5 million dollar university challenge, the winner will receive 500 000 dollars, and the second and third-place teams will receive 100 000 and 50 000 dollars. If they beat the grand challenge of conversing coherently and engagingly with humans for 20 minutes with a 4.0 or higher rating, the team will be awarded by a 1 million dollar research grant.
Last year, the Alquist team, consisting of Jan Pichl, Petr Marek, Martin Matulik, Jakub Konrad and Hoang Long Nguyen, came second from all 12 universities, leaving behind Princeton, MIT or Berkeley. The development of the bot takes place within the eClub Prague student incubator.
More on the blog of Jan Šedivý: http://jsedivy.blogspot.com/
Official website of the project: http://alquistai.com/
Official social media of the project Alquist:
video of the conversation with Alquist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwbpQAOMUSQ&feature=youtu.be
More info about the Amazon Alexa Prize: https://developer.amazon.com/alexaprize
Official announcement of the 2018 finalists: goo.gl/zWXVH9