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Conversational Agents: Theory and Applications

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

In this chapter, we provide a review of conversational agents (CAs), discussing chatbots, intended for casual conversation with a user, as well as task-oriented agents that generally engage in discussions intended to reach one or several specific goals, often (but not always) within a specific domain. We also consider the concept of embodied conversational agents, briefly reviewing aspects such as character animation and speech processing. The many different approaches for representing dialogue in CAs are discussed in some detail, along with methods for evaluating such agents, emphasizing the important topics of accountability and interpretability. A brief historical overview is given, followed by an extensive overview of various applications, especially in the fields of health and education. We end the chapter by discussing benefits and potential risks regarding the societal impact of current and future CA technology.


A Review of Dialogue Systems: From Trained Monkeys to Stochastic Parrots

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

In spoken dialogue systems, we aim to deploy artificial intelligence to build automated dialogue agents that can converse with humans. Dialogue systems are increasingly being designed to move beyond just imitating conversation and also improve from such interactions over time. In this survey, we present a broad overview of methods developed to build dialogue systems over the years. Different use cases for dialogue systems ranging from task-based systems to open domain chatbots motivate and necessitate specific systems. Starting from simple rule-based systems, research has progressed towards increasingly complex architectures trained on a massive corpus of datasets, like deep learning systems. Motivated with the intuition of resembling human dialogues, progress has been made towards incorporating emotions into the natural language generator, using reinforcement learning. While we see a trend of highly marginal improvement on some metrics, we find that limited justification exists for the metrics, and evaluation practices are not uniform. To conclude, we flag these concerns and highlight possible research directions.


A Comprehensive Overview of Recommender System and Sentiment Analysis

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Recommender system has been proven to be significantly crucial in many fields and is widely used by various domains. Most of the conventional recommender systems rely on the numeric rating given by a user to reflect his opinion about a consumed item; however, these ratings are not available in many domains. As a result, a new source of information represented by the user-generated reviews is incorporated in the recommendation process to compensate for the lack of these ratings. The reviews contain prosperous and numerous information related to the whole item or a specific feature that can be extracted using the sentiment analysis field. This paper gives a comprehensive overview to help researchers who aim to work with recommender system and sentiment analysis. It includes a background of the recommender system concept, including phases, approaches, and performance metrics used in recommender systems. Then, it discusses the sentiment analysis concept and highlights the main points in the sentiment analysis, including level, approaches, and focuses on aspect-based sentiment analysis.


Dual Slot Selector via Local Reliability Verification for Dialogue State Tracking

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

The goal of dialogue state tracking (DST) is to predict the current dialogue state given all previous dialogue contexts. Existing approaches generally predict the dialogue state at every turn from scratch. However, the overwhelming majority of the slots in each turn should simply inherit the slot values from the previous turn. Therefore, the mechanism of treating slots equally in each turn not only is inefficient but also may lead to additional errors because of the redundant slot value generation. To address this problem, we devise the two-stage DSS-DST which consists of the Dual Slot Selector based on the current turn dialogue, and the Slot Value Generator based on the dialogue history. The Dual Slot Selector determines each slot whether to update slot value or to inherit the slot value from the previous turn from two aspects: (1) if there is a strong relationship between it and the current turn dialogue utterances; (2) if a slot value with high reliability can be obtained for it through the current turn dialogue. The slots selected to be updated are permitted to enter the Slot Value Generator to update values by a hybrid method, while the other slots directly inherit the values from the previous turn. Empirical results show that our method achieves 56.93%, 60.73%, and 58.04% joint accuracy on MultiWOZ 2.0, MultiWOZ 2.1, and MultiWOZ 2.2 datasets respectively and achieves a new state-of-the-art performance with significant improvements.


Is the User Enjoying the Conversation? A Case Study on the Impact on the Reward Function

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

The impact of user satisfaction in policy learning task-oriented dialogue systems has long been a subject of research interest. Most current models for estimating the user satisfaction either (i) treat out-of-context short-texts, such as product reviews, or (ii) rely on turn features instead of on distributed semantic representations. In this work we adopt deep neural networks that use distributed semantic representation learning for estimating the user satisfaction in conversations. We evaluate the impact of modelling context length in these networks. Moreover, we show that the proposed hierarchical network outperforms state-of-the-art quality estimators. Furthermore, we show that applying these networks to infer the reward function in a Partial Observable Markov Decision Process (POMDP) yields to a great improvement in the task success rate.


Migratable AI: Personalizing Dialog Conversations with migration context

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

The migration of conversational AI agents across different embodiments in order to maintain the continuity of the task has been recently explored to further improve user experience. However, these migratable agents lack contextual understanding of the user information and the migrated device during the dialog conversations with the user. This opens the question of how an agent might behave when migrated into an embodiment for contextually predicting the next utterance. We collected a dataset from the dialog conversations between crowdsourced workers with the migration context involving personal and non-personal utterances in different settings (public or private) of embodiment into which the agent migrated. We trained the generative and information retrieval models on the dataset using with and without migration context and report the results of both qualitative metrics and human evaluation. We believe that the migration dataset would be useful for training future migratable AI systems.


Joint Turn and Dialogue level User Satisfaction Estimation on Multi-Domain Conversations

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Dialogue level quality estimation is vital for optimizing data driven dialogue management. Current automated methods to estimate turn and dialogue level user satisfaction employ hand-crafted features and rely on complex annotation schemes, which reduce the generalizability of the trained models. We propose a novel user satisfaction estimation approach which minimizes an adaptive multi-task loss function in order to jointly predict turn-level Response Quality labels provided by experts and explicit dialogue-level ratings provided by end users. The proposed BiLSTM based deep neural net model automatically weighs each turn's contribution towards the estimated dialogue-level rating, implicitly encodes temporal dependencies, and removes the need to hand-craft features. On dialogues sampled from 28 Alexa domains, two dialogue systems and three user groups, the joint dialogue-level satisfaction estimation model achieved up to an absolute 27% (0.43->0.70) and 7% (0.63->0.70) improvement in linear correlation performance over baseline deep neural net and benchmark Gradient boosting regression models, respectively.


SentiQ: A Probabilistic Logic Approach to Enhance Sentiment Analysis Tool Quality

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

The opinion expressed in various Web sites and social-media is an essential contributor to the decision making process of several organizations. Existing sentiment analysis tools aim to extract the polarity (i.e., positive, negative, neutral) from these opinionated contents. Despite the advance of the research in the field, sentiment analysis tools give \textit{inconsistent} polarities, which is harmful to business decisions. In this paper, we propose SentiQ, an unsupervised Markov logic Network-based approach that injects the semantic dimension in the tools through rules. It allows to detect and solve inconsistencies and then improves the overall accuracy of the tools. Preliminary experimental results demonstrate the usefulness of SentiQ.


Building A User-Centric and Content-Driven Socialbot

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

To build Sounding Board, we develop a system architecture that is capable of accommodating dialog strategies that we designed for socialbot conversations. The architecture consists of a multi-dimensional language understanding module for analyzing user utterances, a hierarchical dialog management framework for dialog context tracking and complex dialog control, and a language generation process that realizes the response plan and makes adjustments for speech synthesis. Additionally, we construct a new knowledge base to power the socialbot by collecting social chat content from a variety of sources. An important contribution of the system is the synergy between the knowledge base and the dialog management, i.e., the use of a graph structure to organize the knowledge base that makes dialog control very efficient in bringing related content to the discussion. Using the data collected from Sounding Board during the competition, we carry out in-depth analyses of socialbot conversations and user ratings which provide valuable insights in evaluation methods for socialbots. We additionally investigate a new approach for system evaluation and diagnosis that allows scoring individual dialog segments in the conversation. Finally, observing that socialbots suffer from the issue of shallow conversations about topics associated with unstructured data, we study the problem of enabling extended socialbot conversations grounded on a document. To bring together machine reading and dialog control techniques, a graph-based document representation is proposed, together with methods for automatically constructing the graph. Using the graph-based representation, dialog control can be carried out by retrieving nodes or moving along edges in the graph. To illustrate the usage, a mixed-initiative dialog strategy is designed for socialbot conversations on news articles.


HyST: A Hybrid Approach for Flexible and Accurate Dialogue State Tracking

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Recent works on end-to-end trainable neural network based approaches have demonstrated state-of-the-art results on dialogue state tracking. The best performing approaches estimate a probability distribution over all possible slot values. However, these approaches do not scale for large value sets commonly present in real-life applications and are not ideal for tracking slot values that were not observed in the training set. To tackle these issues, candidate-generation-based approaches have been proposed. These approaches estimate a set of values that are possible at each turn based on the conversation history and/or language understanding outputs, and hence enable state tracking over unseen values and large value sets however, they fall short in terms of performance in comparison to the first group. In this work, we analyze the performance of these two alternative dialogue state tracking methods, and present a hybrid approach (HyST) which learns the appropriate method for each slot type. To demonstrate the effectiveness of HyST on a rich-set of slot types, we experiment with the recently released MultiWOZ-2.0 multi-domain, task-oriented dialogue-dataset. Our experiments show that HyST scales to multi-domain applications. Our best performing model results in a relative improvement of 24% and 10% over the previous SOTA and our best baseline respectively.