When generating technical instructions, it is often convenient to describe complex objects in the world at different levels of abstraction. A novice user might need an object explained piece by piece, while for an expert, talking about the complex object (e.g. a wall or railing) directly may be more succinct and efficient. We show how to generate building instructions at different levels of abstraction in Minecraft. We introduce the use of hierarchical planning to this end, a method from AI planning which can capture the structure of complex objects neatly. A crowdsourcing evaluation shows that the choice of abstraction level matters to users, and that an abstraction strategy which balances low-level and high-level object descriptions compares favorably to ones which don’t.
We present a comprehensive platform to run human-computer experiments where an agent instructs a human in Minecraft, a 3D blocksworld environment. This platform enables comparisons between different agents by matching users to agents. It performs extensive logging and takes care of all boilerplate, allowing to easily incorporate new agents to evaluate them. Our environment is prepared to evaluate any kind of instruction giving system, recording the interaction and all actions of the user. We provide example architects, a Wizard-of-Oz architect and set-up scripts to automatically download, build and start the platform.
The search space in grammar-based natural language generation tasks can get very large, which is particularly problematic when generating long utterances or paragraphs. Using surface realization with OpenCCG as an example, we show that we can effectively detect partial solutions (edges) which cannot ultimately be part of a complete sentence because of their syntactic category. Formulating the completion of an edge into a sentence as finding a solution path in a large state-transition system, we demonstrate a connection to AI Planning which is concerned with this kind of problem. We design a compilation from OpenCCG into AI Planning allowing the detection of infeasible edges via AI Planning dead-end detection methods (proving the absence of a solution to the compilation). Our experiments show that this can filter out large fractions of infeasible edges in, and thus benefit the performance of, complex realization processes.