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USA Today reports that "Amazon is offering $1 million to the university team that builds an artificial intelligence that can keep up its side of the conversation with a human being for 20 minutes." Calling it the Alexa Prize, Amazon said that the development of such capabilities would be unprecedented “and at least five times more advanced than state-of-the-art conversational AI."

The story notes that "the push comes as Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa is coming to multiple platforms beyond its original home on Amazon’s Echo speaker, and as artificial intelligence is anticipated to become the cutting edge of tech companies' interfaces with their customers."

For example ... The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon is extending its voice assistant Alexa software into a new device - " its second-gen Fire TV Stick, keeping the same $40 price, but including a voice-capable remote that lets owners talk to the artificially intelligent assistant."

According to the story, "By speaking to Alexa, you can not only find something to watch, but also purchase hundreds of items from Amazon’s online store, check the weather, get a news update or play a song on Spotify. Amazon says Alexa is currently able to understand 3,000 distinct commands."

The Journal notes that this is part of a broader effort by Amazon to create a kind of ubiquity for Alexa, even in devices it does not manufacture. It stands in contrast to Apple's Siri software, which is only available on Apple hardware.
KC's View:
I've said all along that Alexa is far superior to Siri ... and I can tell you from personal experience that the Amazon software very quickly insinuates itself into how one lives life on a day to day basis.

I also love the idea of the prize. Pure genius.