Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation

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First-ever generative AI prompt battle in the U.S. a success

MadPrompts hosted by WARF and Data Science Institute Nov. 29

Jeanan Yasiri Moe
Director of Strategic Communications and Public Affairs
[email protected] | (608) 960-9892

MADISON, Wis. – On November 29, the UW-Madison community gathered in the Discovery Building’s H.F. DeLuca Forum for the inaugural generative AI prompt battle at an American university. MadPrompts, hosted by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and the UW-Madison Data Science Institute, featured an electrifying competition that invited students, faculty and staff to use text prompts to create unique AI-generated images.

Five contenders, armed with laptops and fueled by creativity, embarked on five intense rounds of challenges. From crafting a trophy for the MadPrompts winner to conjuring up AI-powered inventions and creating compelling graphics to market them, the competitors navigated a whirlwind of imaginative tasks.

“The best part about this experience was meeting a very intelligent group of people who were all interested in pushing the limits of AI technology,” says contestant Lauren LeVoir, a sophomore majoring in computer sciences. “All of us contestants were able to collaborate before the event and talk about where we see the future of AI going.”

Physics professor Kyle Cranmer, director of the UW-Madison Data Science Institute, took center stage as the emcee, while judges Kaiser Pister, an instructor in the computer sciences department, and Jeanine Burmania, senior director of IP and licensing at WARF, added lighthearted commentary. The judges’ votes combined with live audience votes to determine the winners of each round and the final battle.

WARF’s Lesli Mark, who planned the event with Cranmer and DSI staff Ben Ball, Isaac Baumann, Cris Carusi, Finn Kuusisto, Jason Lo, Emma Mayhew, Iain McConnell, Abe Megahed, Mario Oros and Steve Wangen, says, “MadPrompts not only captivated the audience but also showcased the transformative power of AI. We look forward to continuing the discussion around opportunities in AI and encourage UW researchers working in this space to reach out to us.”

MadPrompts featured an engaging game show format, with the five contestants in a circle at the center of the room, their laptops connected to huge monitors whose screens faced out. Audience members circulated behind the contestants, watching them feed strings of words into text-to-image generative AI software, including OpenAI’s Dall-E, NightCafe and Dreamachines (built by Abe Megahed of DSI), to create original images.

“The most challenging part of the competition was trying to balance quality image generation with an element of uniqueness and surprise to make my submissions stand out,” says MadPrompts winner David Viggiano, a senior majoring in computer sciences.

Computer sciences was well represented: In addition to LeVoir and Viggiano, contestant James Wedum is a graduate student in the department, and third place winner Bryce Sprecher holds degrees in computer sciences and neurology from UW-Madison and is a research assistant in the Virtual Environments Lab at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery. Taking second place was Audra Koscik, a communications specialist in the School of Medicine and Public Health who holds a bachelor’s degree in theater and drama, with minors in computer sciences and gender and women’s studies, from UW-Madison.

“I am excited to see this competition come back annually and to scale, since prompting is beginning to be more valuable to companies and to our own day-to-day lives,” says LeVoir. “This was an awesome experience and opportunity, and I was glad to meet everyone involved.”

 About WARF

Incorporated as a nonprofit foundation in 1925, WARF has a founding purpose “to promote, encourage, and aid scientific investigation and research at and within the University of Wisconsin-Madison.” Over 98 years the foundation has funded more than $4.4 billion in cumulative research grants to UW-Madison and the Morgridge Institute for Research (adjusted for inflation), has been issued more than 4,200 patents (with 2,200 active patents), generates an additional 375 invention disclosures and 55 revenue-generating licenses each year, and has helped create 190 startup companies based on UW-Madison technologies. For more information, visit warf.org and watch a video about how WARF stewards the Cycle of Innovation.

About the Data Science Institute

The UW-Madison Data Science Institute (DSI) is central to UW-Madison’s strategic priority to grow its research enterprise and expand its global impact, supporting the scholarship of faculty, staff, and students. It was established in 2019 with a generous endowment gift from American Family Insurance. The DSI performs cutting-edge research in the fundamentals of data science and catalyzes the translation of this research into practice, to advance scientific discovery in collaboration with researchers across campus and beyond.