For the second year running, a team of PhD students and staff from Heriot-Watt’s Interaction Lab in the School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences, is going head-to-head with universities from around the world to compete in the $3.5 million global Amazon Alexa Prize 2018. ‘Team Alana’, the UK’s only entrant this year, are tasked with developing an artificial intelligence software that can understand and respond to human conversation. For some, the aim of creating a coherent and engaging socialbot continues to be the ‘Holy Grail’ of artificial intelligence and leading work is being carried out at Heriot-Watt.
The Amazon Alexa Prize is a student competition created to advance human-computer interaction through conversational artificial intelligence. In 2017 the Heriot-Watt team finished in an impressive third place – overcoming more than 100 entries from 22 countries.