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Amazon announced the Alexa Prize this morning, a new annual challenge to create chatty bots.

College students who build the best ‘socialbot’ will win a $500,000 prize. The bot that does the best job maintaining an engaging 20-minute conversation with humans will win $1 million for their university.

Up to ten teams will be sponsored by Amazon and receive a $100,000 stipend, Alexa-enabled devices, free AWS services, and support from the Alexa team.

“The goal of the inaugural competition is to build a ‘socialbot’ on Alexa that will converse with people about popular topics and news events,” Amazon said in a statement Thursday.


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The first contest will be held at AWS re:invent in November 2017.

Among other bot-building contests, the Watson Group at IBM has prizes and cash for anyone who can make bots that talk to each other.

Finalists will compete this November at a gathering of Watson developers in San Francisco.

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