Artificial intelligence in cardboard form. Photo by: InstaWally.
Artificial intelligence in cardboard form. Photo by: InstaWally.

Vocal Recognition Evolves with Alexa and Computer Science

Amazon, a Seattle-based technology company, announced today that they will be hosting the Alexa Prize Competition.

This annual competition will take place on a college level at universities, and will focus on developing and managing code that will benefit the field of artificial intelligence (AI).


“The Alexa Prize challenges students to build socialbots that can acquire knowledge and opinions from the web, and express them in context just as a human would in everyday conversations,” said Rohit Prasad, Vice President and Head Scientist, Amazon Alexa.

One of the goals to this competition is to help advance vocal recognition in computer science. Currently Amazon’s Alexa can respond to certain commands in American English, but Amazon is looking for a 20 minute ‘lifelike’ conversation with a computer using artificial intelligence.

Conversational AI is still in its early stages as a method of communication overall. Amazon is looking to see which universities can produced code, software and possibly hardware to deliver organic dialogue.

Competitors will build their socialbots using the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK). This platform is currently being used by tens of thousands of developers working on building new skills on Alexa.

This competition also focuses on the processing different pronunciations. Each user will have their own dialect, and way of using different languages. Currently, Amazon Echo, also known as Alexa, is only available in English.

Hopefully students will focus on the international audience that Amazon holds worldwide and builds code that will translate to different languages for Alexa.

Groups of university students will be looking to submit applications now and the winners will be selected at AWS re:invent in November 2017. University teams can submit their applications between September 29 and October 28, 2016, here.

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Matthew McGuire is the founder and editor of Crescent Vale News. In 2014, he acquired a master's degree in Professional Media and Media Management from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.