Current practices regarding data collection for natural language processing on Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) often rely on a combination of studies on data quality and heuristics shared among NLP researchers. However, without considering the perspectives of MTurk workers, these approaches are susceptible to issues regarding workers' rights and poor response quality. We conducted a critical literature review and a survey of MTurk workers aimed at addressing open questions regarding best practices for fair payment, worker privacy, data quality, and considering worker incentives. We found that worker preferences are often at odds with received wisdom among NLP researchers. Surveyed workers preferred reliable, reasonable payments over uncertain, very high payments; reported frequently lying on demographic questions; and expressed frustration at having work rejected with no explanation. We also found that workers view some quality control methods, such as requiring minimum response times or Master's qualifications, as biased and largely ineffective. Based on the survey results, we provide recommendations on how future NLP studies may better account for MTurk workers' experiences in order to respect workers' rights and improve data quality.
In this work, we consider the task of resolving object referents when given a comparative language description. We present a Multi-view Approach to Grounding in Context (MAGiC) that leverages transformers to pragmatically reason over both objects given multiple image views and a language description. In contrast to past efforts that attempt to connect vision and language for this task without fully considering the resulting referential context, MAGiC makes use of the comparative information by jointly reasoning over multiple views of both object referent candidates and the referring language expression. We present an analysis demonstrating that comparative reasoning contributes to SOTA performance on the SNARE object reference task.
Existing LLM-based systems for writing long-form stories or story outlines frequently suffer from unnatural pacing, whether glossing over important events or over-elaborating on insignificant details, resulting in a jarring experience for the reader. We propose a CONCrete Outline ConTrol (CONCOCT) system to improve pacing when automatically generating story outlines. We first train a concreteness evaluator to judge which of two events is more concrete (low-level-detailed). This evaluator can then be used to control pacing in hierarchical outline generation; in this work, we explore a vaguest-first expansion procedure that aims for uniform pacing. We further use the evaluator to filter new outline items based on predicted concreteness. Compared to a baseline hierarchical outline generator, humans judge CONCOCT's pacing to be more consistent over 57% of the time across multiple outline lengths; the gains also translate to downstream stories. All code, data, and models are open-sourced.
We present a framework for generating appropriate facial responses from a listener in dyadic social interactions based on the speaker's words. Given an input transcription of the speaker's words with their timestamps, our approach autoregressively predicts a response of a listener: a sequence of listener facial gestures, quantized using a VQ-VAE. Since gesture is a language component, we propose treating the quantized atomic motion elements as additional language token inputs to a transformer-based large language model. Initializing our transformer with the weights of a language model pre-trained only on text results in significantly higher quality listener responses than training a transformer from scratch. We show that our generated listener motion is fluent and reflective of language semantics through quantitative metrics and a qualitative user study. In our evaluation, we analyze the model's ability to utilize temporal and semantic aspects of spoken text. Project page: https://people.eecs.berkeley.edu/~evonne_ng/projects/text2listen/
To interact with humans in the world, agents need to understand the diverse types of language that people use, relate them to the visual world, and act based on them. While current agents learn to execute simple language instructions from task rewards, we aim to build agents that leverage diverse language that conveys general knowledge, describes the state of the world, provides interactive feedback, and more. Our key idea is that language helps agents predict the future: what will be observed, how the world will behave, and which situations will be rewarded. This perspective unifies language understanding with future prediction as a powerful self-supervised learning objective. We present Dynalang, an agent that learns a multimodal world model that predicts future text and image representations and learns to act from imagined model rollouts. Unlike traditional agents that use language only to predict actions, Dynalang acquires rich language understanding by using past language also to predict future language, video, and rewards. In addition to learning from online interaction in an environment, Dynalang can be pretrained on datasets of text, video, or both without actions or rewards. From using language hints in grid worlds to navigating photorealistic scans of homes, Dynalang utilizes diverse types of language to improve task performance, including environment descriptions, game rules, and instructions.
We propose Reinforcement Learning from Contrast Distillation (RLCD), a method for aligning language models to follow natural language principles without using human feedback. RLCD trains a preference model using simulated preference pairs that contain both a high-quality and low-quality example, generated using contrasting positive and negative prompts. The preference model is then used to improve a base unaligned language model via reinforcement learning. Empirically, RLCD outperforms RLAIF (Bai et al., 2022b) and context distillation (Huang et al., 2022) baselines across three diverse alignment tasks--harmlessness, helpfulness, and story outline generation--and on both 7B and 30B model scales for preference data simulation.
We propose Prefix-Adaptive Decoding (PREADD), a flexible method for controlled text generation. Unlike existing methods that use auxiliary expert models to control for attributes, PREADD does not require an external model, instead relying on linearly combining output logits from multiple prompts. Specifically, PREADD contrasts the output logits generated using a raw prompt against those generated using a prefix-prepended prompt, enabling both positive and negative control with respect to any attribute encapsulated by the prefix. We evaluate PREADD on three tasks -- toxic output mitigation, gender bias reduction, and sentiment control -- and find that PREADD outperforms not only prompting baselines, but also an auxiliary-expert control method, by 12% or more in relative gain on our main metrics for each task.
We present a framework that formulates visual question answering as modular code generation. In contrast to prior work on modular approaches to VQA, our approach requires no additional training and relies on pre-trained language models (LMs), visual models pre-trained on image-caption pairs, and fifty VQA examples used for in-context learning. The generated Python programs invoke and compose the outputs of the visual models using arithmetic and conditional logic. Our approach improves accuracy on the COVR dataset by at least 3% and on the GQA dataset by roughly 2% compared to the few-shot baseline that does not employ code generation.
Recent work has shown that infusing layout features into language models (LMs) improves processing of visually-rich documents such as scientific papers. Layout-infused LMs are often evaluated on documents with familiar layout features (e.g., papers from the same publisher), but in practice models encounter documents with unfamiliar distributions of layout features, such as new combinations of text sizes and styles, or new spatial configurations of textual elements. In this work we test whether layout-infused LMs are robust to layout distribution shifts. As a case study we use the task of scientific document structure recovery, segmenting a scientific paper into its structural categories (e.g., "title", "caption", "reference"). To emulate distribution shifts that occur in practice we re-partition the GROTOAP2 dataset. We find that under layout distribution shifts model performance degrades by up to 20 F1. Simple training strategies, such as increasing training diversity, can reduce this degradation by over 35% relative F1; however, models fail to reach in-distribution performance in any tested out-of-distribution conditions. This work highlights the need to consider layout distribution shifts during model evaluation, and presents a methodology for conducting such evaluations.