Amazon's voice assistant will get smarter. These new Alexa Prize teams will help

CNET | 6/5/2019 | Ben Fox Rubin
JimmyJoe (Posted by) Level 3
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The Amazon Echo Dot wants to talk.

Someday, you may ask Amazon's Alexa about the weather in Miami and that query will quickly flourish into an extended conversation with the voice assistant about booking weekend getaways there.

Kind - Dialogue - Assistant - Today - Settings

That kind of back-and-forth dialogue with any digital assistant isn't possible today, except in limited settings, like asking for local movie times. But Amazon is working on this very big concept of chatting with a robot with the help of its Alexa Prize Socialbot Grand Challenge, a competition among colleges to build the best social bot.

On Wednesday, the Alexa Prize unveiled its latest class of colleges for its third year of competition. The announcement coincided with the kick off of Amazon's inaugural re:MARS science and tech conference in Las Vegas.

Year - Competing - Schools

Here are this year's competing schools:

"We are very early," Rohit Prasad, the head scientist for Alexa's artificial-intelligence team, said in an interview. "While there's been progress over the past two years, I think we're at least five to eight years away before we can meet the ultimate goal of having a real, coherent and engaging conversation for 20 minutes with any of these bots."

Alexa - Prize - Part - Amazon - Mission

The Alexa Prize is part of Amazon's broad mission of making its voice assistant smarter, more human-like and more conversational, so it can become more useful and engaging for its users. The benefits of creating a better digital assistant could be huge. It could allow Amazon to have a technology millions of customers rely on, helping it sell more smart speakers and products through voice shopping, while also helping it capture useful data about its users. But, Amazon isn't alone in this pursue, with Google, Apple and Samsung all working on their own assistants.

Also, with consumers focusing more on their data privacy, Alexa may face a less receptive audience in the future, no...
(Excerpt) Read more at: CNET
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