On Friday, July 14th, the Amazon issued a press release that pleased not only the students who have been developing the conversational bot Alquist at CIIRC CTU as part of the Alexa Prize Socialbot Grand Challenge 5 (SGC5), but also all their supporters who are closely observing the competition this year.
Amazon selected 5 university teams for the final round, based both on the evaluation of individual interactions from device users equipped with AI conversational assistant Alexa, and on the basis of technical articles prepared by individual teams. And the student team Alquist from CIIRC CTU is not missing among them again!
The selected finalists are:
|Alquist||Czech Technical University, Prague||Jan Šedivý|
|Athena||University of California, Santa Cruz||Xin Wang|
|Chirpy Cardinal||Stanford University||Christopher Manning|
|GauchoChat||University of California, Santa Barbara||Xifeng Yan|
|NAM||Stevens Institute of Technology||Jia Xu|
Let’s briefly recap the progress of the competition, which our student team is participating in for the fifth time. At the end of the last year, the team consisting of Ondřej Kobza, Petr Marek, Jan Čuhel, David Herel and Tommaso Gargiani was chosen among nine teams that will try to achieve the goal of the competition and fulfill the so-called „Grand Challenge“. This means getting a score of 4.0 or higher (out of a possible 5) from the jury and maintaining a twenty-minute continuous and engaging conversation between a socialbot and a human, which has not yet been achieved in previous rounds. The winning team will receive a $1 million grant for their university.
This year, on their devices equipped with the Alexa assistant, users can call up one of the competition bots with the formula „Alexa, let’s discuss“. In contrast to previous years, this also applies to devices with a screen (Amazon Echo or Fire TV), and conversing users are thus also enriched with visual enjoyment. The feedback that the users provide to the teams in the form of evaluation of the conversation with the socialbot allows the student teams to improve their bots.
Not only the experience from previous years, but also the correctly chosen technical solution ensured our team progress to the semi-finals in May and now also to the finals, which will take place in the first week of August and which will determine the winner.
„We are thrilled that CTU CIIRC Alquist team has advanced to the finals of the prestigious Alexa Prize competition. In this exciting phase of the competition, Alquist is grateful for the support and partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS), whose advanced infrastructure empowers the deployment of our hybrid Language Model + Scripts conversational technology. As finalists, the team aims to leverage this opportunity to further enhance Alquist, pushing the boundaries of conversational AI and setting new standards for human-like interactions,“ comments Jan Šedivý, the team’s university advisor.
„Thanks to the GPT chat, everyone already knows the large language models. The team from the CIIRC CTU has been focusing on conversational artificial intelligence for many years and every year it has succeeded in establishing itself among the best teams in the competition of prestigious universities. This field has been developing very dynamically and I am pleased that, thanks to the Alquist team, we are among the most innovative subjects in the field,“ says Ondřej Velek, director of CIIRC CTU and adds: “Fingers crossed for the Alquist team for this year’s finals, when they are in the difficult position of defending last year’s victory. “
News in the competition
This year, Amazon has decided to make the competition a little more diverse by enlivening the conversations, which until now only took place in the form of verbal conversation, with multimodal elements – images or text.
In addition, this year there will even be two awards: as in the past, there is a prize for overall performance in the field of social interaction (with a cash prize of $250,000 for the team in first place, $50,000 for second and $25,000 for third place), but there will be one more award for scientific contribution (again with $250,000 for the first place team, $50,000 for the second place and $25,000 for the third place).
Photo: Jiří Ryszawý, CTU
About the team being selected to the Alexa Prize competiotion we already informed HERE.
About the team advancement to the semifinals we already informed HERE.