Crowd-powered conversational assistants have been shown to be more robust than automated systems, but do so at the cost of higher response latency and monetary costs. A promising direction is to combine the two approaches for high quality, low latency, and low cost solutions. In this paper, we introduce Evorus, a crowd-powered conversational assistant built to automate itself over time by (i) allowing new chatbots to be easily integrated to automate more scenarios, (ii) reusing prior crowd answers, and (iii) learning to automatically approve response candidates. Our 5-month-long deployment with 80 participants and 281 conversations shows that Evorus can automate itself without compromising conversation quality. Crowd-AI architectures have long been proposed as a way to reduce cost and latency for crowd-powered systems; Evorus demonstrates how automation can be introduced successfully in a deployed system. Its architecture allows future researchers to make further innovation on the underlying automated components in the context of a deployed open domain dialog system.
We present a large, tunable neural conversational response generation model, DialoGPT (dialogue generative pre-trained transformer). Trained on 147M conversation-like exchanges extracted from Reddit comment chains over a period spanning from 2005 through 2017, DialoGPT extends the Hugging Face PyTorch transformer to attain a performance close to human both in terms of automatic and human evaluation in single-turn dialogue settings. We show that conversational systems that leverage DialoGPT generate more relevant, contentful and context-consistent responses than strong baseline systems. The pre-trained model and training pipeline are publicly released to facilitate research into neural response generation and the development of more intelligent open-domain dialogue systems.
The majority of conversations a dialogue agent sees over its lifetime occur after it has already been trained and deployed, leaving a vast store of potential training signal untapped. In this work, we propose the self-feeding chatbot, a dialogue agent with the ability to extract new training examples from the conversations it participates in. As our agent engages in conversation, it also estimates user satisfaction in its responses. When the conversation appears to be going well, the user's responses become new training examples to imitate. When the agent believes it has made a mistake, it asks for feedback; learning to predict the feedback that will be given improves the chatbot's dialogue abilities further. On the PersonaChat chit-chat dataset with over 131k training examples, we find that learning from dialogue with a self-feeding chatbot significantly improves performance, regardless of the amount of traditional supervision.
Conversational question answering (CQA) is a novel QA task that requires understanding of dialogue context. Different from traditional single-turn machine reading comprehension (MRC) tasks, CQA includes passage comprehension, coreference resolution, and contextual understanding. In this paper, we propose an innovated contextualized attention-based deep neural network, SDNet, to fuse context into traditional MRC models. Our model leverages both inter-attention and self-attention to comprehend conversation context and extract relevant information from passage. Furthermore, we demonstrated a novel method to integrate the latest BERT contextual model. Empirical results show the effectiveness of our model, which sets the new state of the art result in CoQA leaderboard, outperforming the previous best model by 1.6% F1. Our ensemble model further improves the result by 2.7% F1.
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.
Machine reading comprehension with unanswerable questions aims to abstain from answering when no answer can be inferred. In addition to extract answers, previous works usually predict an additional "no-answer" probability to detect unanswerable cases. However, they fail to validate the answerability of the question by verifying the legitimacy of the predicted answer. To address this problem, we propose a novel read-then-verify system, which not only utilizes a neural reader to extract candidate answers and produce no-answer probabilities, but also leverages an answer verifier to decide whether the predicted answer is entailed by the input snippets. Moreover, we introduce two auxiliary losses to help the reader better handle answer extraction as well as no-answer detection, and investigate three different architectures for the answer verifier. Our experiments on the SQuAD 2.0 dataset show that our system achieves a score of 74.2 F1 on the test set, achieving state-of-the-art results at the time of submission (Aug. 28th, 2018).
Humans gather information by engaging in conversations involving a series of interconnected questions and answers. For machines to assist in information gathering, it is therefore essential to enable them to answer conversational questions. We introduce CoQA, a novel dataset for building Conversational Question Answering systems. Our dataset contains 127k questions with answers, obtained from 8k conversations about text passages from seven diverse domains. The questions are conversational, and the answers are free-form text with their corresponding evidence highlighted in the passage. We analyze CoQA in depth and show that conversational questions have challenging phenomena not present in existing reading comprehension datasets, e.g., coreference and pragmatic reasoning. We evaluate strong conversational and reading comprehension models on CoQA. The best system obtains an F1 score of 65.1%, which is 23.7 points behind human performance (88.8%), indicating there is ample room for improvement. We launch CoQA as a challenge to the community at http://stanfordnlp.github.io/coqa/
Over the past years, there has been a resurgence of Datalog-based systems in the database community as well as in industry. In this context, it has been recognized that to handle the complex knowl\-edge-based scenarios encountered today, such as reasoning over large knowledge graphs, Datalog has to be extended with features such as existential quantification. Yet, Datalog-based reasoning in the presence of existential quantification is in general undecidable. Many efforts have been made to define decidable fragments. Warded Datalog+/- is a very promising one, as it captures PTIME complexity while allowing ontological reasoning. Yet so far, no implementation of Warded Datalog+/- was available. In this paper we present the Vadalog system, a Datalog-based system for performing complex logic reasoning tasks, such as those required in advanced knowledge graphs. The Vadalog system is Oxford's contribution to the VADA research programme, a joint effort of the universities of Oxford, Manchester and Edinburgh and around 20 industrial partners. As the main contribution of this paper, we illustrate the first implementation of Warded Datalog+/-, a high-performance Datalog+/- system utilizing an aggressive termination control strategy. We also provide a comprehensive experimental evaluation.
Existing methods for interactive image retrieval have demonstrated the merit of integrating user feedback, improving retrieval results. However, most current systems rely on restricted forms of user feedback, such as binary relevance responses, or feedback based on a fixed set of relative attributes, which limits their impact. In this paper, we introduce a new approach to interactive image search that enables users to provide feedback via natural language, allowing for more natural and effective interaction. We formulate the task of dialog-based interactive image retrieval as a reinforcement learning problem, and reward the dialog system for improving the rank of the target image during each dialog turn. To avoid the cumbersome and costly process of collecting human-machine conversations as the dialog system learns, we train our system with a user simulator, which is itself trained to describe the differences between target and candidate images. The efficacy of our approach is demonstrated in a footwear retrieval application. Extensive experiments on both simulated and real-world data show that 1) our proposed learning framework achieves better accuracy than other supervised and reinforcement learning baselines and 2) user feedback based on natural language rather than pre-specified attributes leads to more effective retrieval results, and a more natural and expressive communication interface.
Recommender systems play a crucial role in mitigating the problem of information overload by suggesting users' personalized items or services. The vast majority of traditional recommender systems consider the recommendation procedure as a static process and make recommendations following a fixed strategy. In this paper, we propose a novel recommender system with the capability of continuously improving its strategies during the interactions with users. We model the sequential interactions between users and a recommender system as a Markov Decision Process (MDP) and leverage Reinforcement Learning (RL) to automatically learn the optimal strategies via recommending trial-and-error items and receiving reinforcements of these items from users' feedbacks. In particular, we introduce an online user-agent interacting environment simulator, which can pre-train and evaluate model parameters offline before applying the model online. Moreover, we validate the importance of list-wise recommendations during the interactions between users and agent, and develop a novel approach to incorporate them into the proposed framework LIRD for list-wide recommendations. The experimental results based on a real-world e-commerce dataset demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed framework.
With the ever-growing volume, complexity and dynamicity of online information, recommender system has been an effective key solution to overcome such information overload. In recent years, deep learning's revolutionary advances in speech recognition, image analysis and natural language processing have gained significant attention. Meanwhile, recent studies also demonstrate its effectiveness in coping with information retrieval and recommendation tasks. Applying deep learning techniques into recommender system has been gaining momentum due to its state-of-the-art performances and high-quality recommendations. In contrast to traditional recommendation models, deep learning provides a better understanding of user's demands, item's characteristics and historical interactions between them. This article aims to provide a comprehensive review of recent research efforts on deep learning based recommender systems towards fostering innovations of recommender system research. A taxonomy of deep learning based recommendation models is presented and used to categorize the surveyed articles. Open problems are identified based on the analytics of the reviewed works and potential solutions discussed.