There is a resurgent interest in developing intelligent open-domain dialog systems due to the availability of large amounts of conversational data and the recent progress on neural approaches to conversational AI. Unlike traditional task-oriented bots, an open-domain dialog system aims to establish long-term connections with users by satisfying the human need for communication, affection, and social belonging. This paper reviews the recent works on neural approaches that are devoted to addressing three challenges in developing such systems: semantics, consistency, and interactiveness. Semantics requires a dialog system to not only understand the content of the dialog but also identify user's social needs during the conversation. Consistency requires the system to demonstrate a consistent personality to win users trust and gain their long-term confidence. Interactiveness refers to the system's ability to generate interpersonal responses to achieve particular social goals such as entertainment, conforming, and task completion. The works we select to present here is based on our unique views and are by no means complete. Nevertheless, we hope that the discussion will inspire new research in developing more intelligent dialog systems.
Due to the significance and value in human-computer interaction and natural language processing, task-oriented dialog systems are attracting more and more attention in both academic and industrial communities. In this paper, we survey recent advances and challenges in an issue-specific manner. We discuss three critical topics for task-oriented dialog systems: (1) improving data efficiency to facilitate dialog system modeling in low-resource settings, (2) modeling multi-turn dynamics for dialog policy learning to achieve better task-completion performance, and (3) integrating domain ontology knowledge into the dialog model in both pipeline and end-to-end models. We also review the recent progresses in dialog evaluation and some widely-used corpora. We believe that this survey can shed a light on future research in task-oriented dialog systems.
Emotion recognition in conversation (ERC) has received much attention, lately, from researchers due to its potential widespread applications in diverse areas, such as health-care, education, and human resources. In this paper, we present Dialogue Graph Convolutional Network (DialogueGCN), a graph neural network based approach to ERC. We leverage self and inter-speaker dependency of the interlocutors to model conversational context for emotion recognition. Through the graph network, DialogueGCN addresses context propagation issues present in the current RNN-based methods. We empirically show that this method alleviates such issues, while outperforming the current state of the art on a number of benchmark emotion classification datasets.
Question Answering has recently received high attention from artificial intelligence communities due to the advancements in learning technologies. Early question answering models used rule-based approaches and moved to the statistical approach to address the vastly available information. However, statistical approaches are shown to underperform in handling the dynamic nature and the variation of language. Therefore, learning models have shown the capability of handling the dynamic nature and variations in language. Many deep learning methods have been introduced to question answering. Most of the deep learning approaches have shown to achieve higher results compared to machine learning and statistical methods. The dynamic nature of language has profited from the nonlinear learning in deep learning. This has created prominent success and a spike in work on question answering. This paper discusses the successes and challenges in question answering question answering systems and techniques that are used in these challenges.
Building open domain conversational systems that allow users to have engaging conversations on topics of their choice is a challenging task. Alexa Prize was launched in 2016 to tackle the problem of achieving natural, sustained, coherent and engaging open-domain dialogs. In the second iteration of the competition in 2018, university teams advanced the state of the art by using context in dialog models, leveraging knowledge graphs for language understanding, handling complex utterances, building statistical and hierarchical dialog managers, and leveraging model-driven signals from user responses. The 2018 competition also included the provision of a suite of tools and models to the competitors including the CoBot (conversational bot) toolkit, topic and dialog act detection models, conversation evaluators, and a sensitive content detection model so that the competing teams could focus on building knowledge-rich, coherent and engaging multi-turn dialog systems. This paper outlines the advances developed by the university teams as well as the Alexa Prize team to achieve the common goal of advancing the science of Conversational AI. We address several key open-ended problems such as conversational speech recognition, open domain natural language understanding, commonsense reasoning, statistical dialog management, and dialog evaluation. These collaborative efforts have driven improved experiences by Alexa users to an average rating of 3.61, the median duration of 2 mins 18 seconds, and average turns to 14.6, increases of 14%, 92%, 54% respectively since the launch of the 2018 competition. For conversational speech recognition, we have improved our relative Word Error Rate by 55% and our relative Entity Error Rate by 34% since the launch of the Alexa Prize. Socialbots improved in quality significantly more rapidly in 2018, in part due to the release of the CoBot toolkit.
The present paper surveys neural approaches to conversational AI that have been developed in the last few years. We group conversational systems into three categories: (1) question answering agents, (2) task-oriented dialogue agents, and (3) chatbots. For each category, we present a review of state-of-the-art neural approaches, draw the connection between them and traditional approaches, and discuss the progress that has been made and challenges still being faced, using specific systems and models as case studies.
Most existing works on dialog systems only consider conversation content while neglecting the personality of the user the bot is interacting with, which begets several unsolved issues. In this paper, we present a personalized end-to-end model in an attempt to leverage personalization in goal-oriented dialogs. We first introduce a Profile Model which encodes user profiles into distributed embeddings and refers to conversation history from other similar users. Then a Preference Model captures user preferences over knowledge base entities to handle the ambiguity in user requests. The two models are combined into the Personalized MemN2N. Experiments show that the proposed model achieves qualitative performance improvements over state-of-the-art methods. As for human evaluation, it also outperforms other approaches in terms of task completion rate and user satisfaction.
Keeping the dialogue state in dialogue systems is a notoriously difficult task. We introduce an ontology-based dialogue manage(OntoDM), a dialogue manager that keeps the state of the conversation, provides a basis for anaphora resolution and drives the conversation via domain ontologies. The banking and finance area promises great potential for disambiguating the context via a rich set of products and specificity of proper nouns, named entities and verbs. We used ontologies both as a knowledge base and a basis for the dialogue manager; the knowledge base component and dialogue manager components coalesce in a sense. Domain knowledge is used to track Entities of Interest, i.e. nodes (classes) of the ontology which happen to be products and services. In this way we also introduced conversation memory and attention in a sense. We finely blended linguistic methods, domain-driven keyword ranking and domain ontologies to create ways of domain-driven conversation. Proposed framework is used in our in-house German language banking and finance chatbots. General challenges of German language processing and finance-banking domain chatbot language models and lexicons are also introduced. This work is still in progress, hence no success metrics have been introduced yet.
While most machine translation systems to date are trained on large parallel corpora, humans learn language in a different way: by being grounded in an environment and interacting with other humans. In this work, we propose a communication game where two agents, native speakers of their own respective languages, jointly learn to solve a visual referential task. We find that the ability to understand and translate a foreign language emerges as a means to achieve shared goals. The emergent translation is interactive and multimodal, and crucially does not require parallel corpora, but only monolingual, independent text and corresponding images. Our proposed translation model achieves this by grounding the source and target languages into a shared visual modality, and outperforms several baselines on both word-level and sentence-level translation tasks. Furthermore, we show that agents in a multilingual community learn to translate better and faster than in a bilingual communication setting.
Music recommender systems (MRS) have experienced a boom in recent years, thanks to the emergence and success of online streaming services, which nowadays make available almost all music in the world at the user's fingertip. While today's MRS considerably help users to find interesting music in these huge catalogs, MRS research is still facing substantial challenges. In particular when it comes to build, incorporate, and evaluate recommendation strategies that integrate information beyond simple user--item interactions or content-based descriptors, but dig deep into the very essence of listener needs, preferences, and intentions, MRS research becomes a big endeavor and related publications quite sparse. The purpose of this trends and survey article is twofold. We first identify and shed light on what we believe are the most pressing challenges MRS research is facing, from both academic and industry perspectives. We review the state of the art towards solving these challenges and discuss its limitations. Second, we detail possible future directions and visions we contemplate for the further evolution of the field. The article should therefore serve two purposes: giving the interested reader an overview of current challenges in MRS research and providing guidance for young researchers by identifying interesting, yet under-researched, directions in the field.
Conversational systems have come a long way after decades of research and development, from Eliza and Parry in the 60's and 70's, to task-completion systems as in the ATIS project, to intelligent personal assistants such as Siri, and to today's social chatbots like XiaoIce. Social chatbots' appeal lies in not only their ability to respond to users' diverse requests, but also in being able to establish an emotional connection with users. The latter is done by satisfying the users' essential needs for communication, affection, and social belonging. The design of social chatbots must focus on user engagement and take both intellectual quotient (IQ) and emotional quotient (EQ) into account. Users should want to engage with the social chatbot; as such, we define the success metric for social chatbots as conversation-turns per session (CPS). Using XiaoIce as an illustrative example, we discuss key technologies in building social chatbots from core chat to visual sense to skills. We also show how XiaoIce can dynamically recognize emotion and engage the user throughout long conversations with appropriate interpersonal responses. As we become the first generation of humans ever living with AI, social chatbots that are well-designed to be both useful and empathic will soon be ubiquitous.