Kurt Shuster


2020

pdf bib
Can You Put it All Together: Evaluating Conversational Agents’ Ability to Blend Skills
Eric Michael Smith | Mary Williamson | Kurt Shuster | Jason Weston | Y-Lan Boureau
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Being engaging, knowledgeable, and empathetic are all desirable general qualities in a conversational agent. Previous work has introduced tasks and datasets that aim to help agents to learn those qualities in isolation and gauge how well they can express them. But rather than being specialized in one single quality, a good open-domain conversational agent should be able to seamlessly blend them all into one cohesive conversational flow. In this work, we investigate several ways to combine models trained towards isolated capabilities, ranging from simple model aggregation schemes that require minimal additional training, to various forms of multi-task training that encompass several skills at all training stages. We further propose a new dataset, BlendedSkillTalk, to analyze how these capabilities would mesh together in a natural conversation, and compare the performance of different architectures and training schemes. Our experiments show that multi-tasking over several tasks that focus on particular capabilities results in better blended conversation performance compared to models trained on a single skill, and that both unified or two-stage approaches perform well if they are constructed to avoid unwanted bias in skill selection or are fine-tuned on our new task.

pdf bib
Image-Chat: Engaging Grounded Conversations
Kurt Shuster | Samuel Humeau | Antoine Bordes | Jason Weston
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

To achieve the long-term goal of machines being able to engage humans in conversation, our models should captivate the interest of their speaking partners. Communication grounded in images, whereby a dialogue is conducted based on a given photo, is a setup naturally appealing to humans (Hu et al., 2014). In this work we study large-scale architectures and datasets for this goal. We test a set of neural architectures using state-of-the-art image and text representations, considering various ways to fuse the components. To test such models, we collect a dataset of grounded human-human conversations, where speakers are asked to play roles given a provided emotional mood or style, as the use of such traits is also a key factor in engagingness (Guo et al., 2019). Our dataset, Image-Chat, consists of 202k dialogues over 202k images using 215 possible style traits. Automatic metrics and human evaluations of engagingness show the efficacy of our approach; in particular, we obtain state-of-the-art performance on the existing IGC task, and our best performing model is almost on par with humans on the Image-Chat test set (preferred 47.7% of the time).

pdf bib
The Dialogue Dodecathlon: Open-Domain Knowledge and Image Grounded Conversational Agents
Kurt Shuster | Da Ju | Stephen Roller | Emily Dinan | Y-Lan Boureau | Jason Weston
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

We introduce dodecaDialogue: a set of 12 tasks that measures if a conversational agent can communicate engagingly with personality and empathy, ask questions, answer questions by utilizing knowledge resources, discuss topics and situations, and perceive and converse about images. By multi-tasking on such a broad large-scale set of data, we hope to both move towards and measure progress in producing a single unified agent that can perceive, reason and converse with humans in an open-domain setting. We show that such multi-tasking improves over a BERT pre-trained baseline, largely due to multi-tasking with very large dialogue datasets in a similar domain, and that the multi-tasking in general provides gains to both text and image-based tasks using several metrics in both the fine-tune and task transfer settings. We obtain state-of-the-art results on many of the tasks, providing a strong baseline for this challenge.