What is EVE? Eve is a conversational AI system designed to function with Amazon’s Alexa. Unlike most Alexa skills, EVE can participate in free-form discussion on a wide variety of topics.

How well can EVE converse? Right now, not very well. We started this project a few weeks ago, and are still putting the code infrastructure in place. By the end of April, we hope that she will be responding to humans intelligently and coherently. Our goal for July is to have a system that functions as a synthetic identity, with her own past memories, growing opinions, and the ability to both describe her internal state and make educated guesses about how her conversation partner is feeling.

Isn’t that a little ambitious? Of course. We didn’t join the Alexa Prize competition because we thought it would be easy. 😉  This is a difficult problem, and greater minds than ours have worked on it. We hope to build on their successes in order to take AI one step further.

Tell me how EVE works. Is she a neural network, or what? Eve is a hybrid architecture that combines neural networks, probabilistic programming, and a few hand-coded features. Incoming statements are used to update Eve’s model of the user and inform a set of neural networks that generate possible responses. She then selects the response that best reflects her own ideas on the subject. As Eve produces responses, she updates her self-model with information about what she’s said, essentially constructing her own personality with each utterance.

Wait, what’s probabilistic programming? It’s a compact, efficient way to perform Bayesian inference. You can learn more here.

Is Eve Sentient? Although Eve can be said to be self-aware in the sense that she is able to formulate statements about her internal state, we do not anticipate that she will achieve anything resembling human sentience.  Just as a magician uses mirrors and sleight-of-hand to create the impression of magic, we use neural networks and Bayesian learning to mimic human conversation patterns. The result may be impressive, but it is mostly illusory.

Does EVE store user data? EVE receives a unique Echo id code each time a conversation is initiated, and uses this code to remember past conversations. She does not have access to any of the Amazon user’s passwords, login names, private data, purchased songs or video, or any of the user’s other Amazon data or devices. She may store text from previous conversations in order to facilitate more natural and fluid conversation with the user.

What does EVE stand for? Emotive Adversarial Ensembles.

Wouldn’t the proper acronym for that be ‘EAE’? Well, yes. But we like EVE better. (The ‘v’ comes from the third letter in ‘adversarial’.)

What’s the correct capitalization, ‘EVE’ or ‘Eve’? Both. As system designers, we tend to use ‘EVE’ when talking about agent architecture and ‘Eve’ when referring to the personality that interacts with users, but it’s not a firm rule. We also sometimes use ‘EVE’ to refer to the development team.

Can I join the team? Team membership was finalized shortly after the Alexa Prize opened. We are not adding anyone new.

I’d like to help. That’s fantastic! To learn how you can support Eve, visit this link.