While both agent interaction and personalisation are vibrant topics in research on large language models (LLMs), there has been limited focus on the effect of language interaction on the behaviour of persona-conditioned LLM agents. Such an endeavour is important to ensure that agents remain consistent to their assigned traits yet are able to engage in open, naturalistic dialogues. In our experiments, we condition GPT-3.5 on personality profiles through prompting and create a two-group population of LLM agents using a simple variability-inducing sampling algorithm. We then administer personality tests and submit the agents to a collaborative writing task, finding that different profiles exhibit different degrees of personality consistency and linguistic alignment to their conversational partners. Our study seeks to lay the groundwork for better understanding of dialogue-based interaction between LLMs and highlights the need for new approaches to crafting robust, more human-like LLM personas for interactive environments.
* To appear in Proceedings of the 1st Personalization of Generative AI
Workshop, EACL 2024
Language models are often used as the backbone of modern dialogue systems. These models are pre-trained on large amounts of written fluent language. Repetition is typically penalised when evaluating language model generations. However, it is a key component of dialogue. Humans use local and partner specific repetitions; these are preferred by human users and lead to more successful communication in dialogue. In this study, we evaluate (a) whether language models produce human-like levels of repetition in dialogue, and (b) what are the processing mechanisms related to lexical re-use they use during comprehension. We believe that such joint analysis of model production and comprehension behaviour can inform the development of cognitively inspired dialogue generation systems.
We present information value, a measure which quantifies the predictability of an utterance relative to a set of plausible alternatives. We introduce a method to obtain interpretable estimates of information value using neural text generators, and exploit their psychometric predictive power to investigate the dimensions of predictability that drive human comprehension behaviour. Information value is a stronger predictor of utterance acceptability in written and spoken dialogue than aggregates of token-level surprisal and it is complementary to surprisal for predicting eye-tracked reading times.
Dialogue participants may have varying levels of knowledge about the topic under discussion. In such cases, it is essential for speakers to adapt their utterances by taking their audience into account. Yet, it is an open question how such adaptation can be modelled in computational agents. In this paper, we model a visually grounded referential game between a knowledgeable speaker and a listener with more limited visual and linguistic experience. Inspired by psycholinguistic theories, we endow our speaker with the ability to adapt its referring expressions via a simulation module that monitors the effectiveness of planned utterances from the listener's perspective. We propose an adaptation mechanism building on plug-and-play approaches to controlled language generation, where utterance generation is steered on the fly by the simulator without finetuning the speaker's underlying language model. Our results and analyses show that our approach is effective: the speaker's utterances become closer to the listener's domain of expertise, which leads to higher communicative success.
We propose using automatically generated natural language definitions of contextualised word usages as interpretable word and word sense representations. Given a collection of usage examples for a target word, and the corresponding data-driven usage clusters (i.e., word senses), a definition is generated for each usage with a specialised Flan-T5 language model, and the most prototypical definition in a usage cluster is chosen as the sense label. We demonstrate how the resulting sense labels can make existing approaches to semantic change analysis more interpretable, and how they can allow users -- historical linguists, lexicographers, or social scientists -- to explore and intuitively explain diachronic trajectories of word meaning. Semantic change analysis is only one of many possible applications of the `definitions as representations' paradigm. Beyond being human-readable, contextualised definitions also outperform token or usage sentence embeddings in word-in-context semantic similarity judgements, making them a new promising type of lexical representation for NLP.
In Natural Language Generation (NLG) tasks, for any input, multiple communicative goals are plausible, and any goal can be put into words, or produced, in multiple ways. We characterise the extent to which human production varies lexically, syntactically, and semantically across four NLG tasks, connecting human production variability to aleatoric or data uncertainty. We then inspect the space of output strings shaped by a generation system's predicted probability distribution and decoding algorithm to probe its uncertainty. For each test input, we measure the generator's calibration to human production variability. Following this instance-level approach, we analyse NLG models and decoding strategies, demonstrating that probing a generator with multiple samples and, when possible, multiple references, provides the level of detail necessary to gain understanding of a model's representation of uncertainty.
This position paper proposes a conceptual framework for the design of Natural Language Generation (NLG) systems that follow efficient and effective production strategies in order to achieve complex communicative goals. In this general framework, efficiency is characterised as the parsimonious regulation of production and comprehension costs while effectiveness is measured with respect to task-oriented and contextually grounded communicative goals. We provide concrete suggestions for the estimation of goals, costs, and utility via modern statistical methods, demonstrating applications of our framework to the classic pragmatic task of visually grounded referential games and to abstractive text summarisation, two popular generation tasks with real-world applications. In sum, we advocate for the development of NLG systems that learn to make pragmatic production decisions from experience, by reasoning about goals, costs, and utility in a human-like way.
* In Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural
Language Processing (EMNLP 2022)
Speakers repeat constructions frequently in dialogue. Due to their peculiar information-theoretic properties, repetitions can be thought of as a strategy for cost-effective communication. In this study, we focus on the repetition of lexicalised constructions -- i.e., recurring multi-word units -- in English open-domain spoken dialogues. We hypothesise that speakers use construction repetition to mitigate information rate, leading to an overall decrease in utterance information content over the course of a dialogue. We conduct a quantitative analysis, measuring the information content of constructions and that of their containing utterances, estimating information content with an adaptive neural language model. We observe that construction usage lowers the information content of utterances. This facilitating effect (i) increases throughout dialogues, (ii) is boosted by repetition, (iii) grows as a function of repetition frequency and density, and (iv) is stronger for repetitions of referential constructions.
* In Proceedings of the 2nd Conference of the Asia-Pacific Chapter of
the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 12th International
Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (AACL-IJCNLP 2022)
The ability to generalise well is one of the primary desiderata of natural language processing (NLP). Yet, what `good generalisation' entails and how it should be evaluated is not well understood, nor are there any common standards to evaluate it. In this paper, we aim to lay the ground-work to improve both of these issues. We present a taxonomy for characterising and understanding generalisation research in NLP, we use that taxonomy to present a comprehensive map of published generalisation studies, and we make recommendations for which areas might deserve attention in the future. Our taxonomy is based on an extensive literature review of generalisation research, and contains five axes along which studies can differ: their main motivation, the type of generalisation they aim to solve, the type of data shift they consider, the source by which this data shift is obtained, and the locus of the shift within the modelling pipeline. We use our taxonomy to classify over 400 previous papers that test generalisation, for a total of more than 600 individual experiments. Considering the results of this review, we present an in-depth analysis of the current state of generalisation research in NLP, and make recommendations for the future. Along with this paper, we release a webpage where the results of our review can be dynamically explored, and which we intend to up-date as new NLP generalisation studies are published. With this work, we aim to make steps towards making state-of-the-art generalisation testing the new status quo in NLP.
Language models demonstrate both quantitative improvement and new qualitative capabilities with increasing scale. Despite their potentially transformative impact, these new capabilities are as yet poorly characterized. In order to inform future research, prepare for disruptive new model capabilities, and ameliorate socially harmful effects, it is vital that we understand the present and near-future capabilities and limitations of language models. To address this challenge, we introduce the Beyond the Imitation Game benchmark (BIG-bench). BIG-bench currently consists of 204 tasks, contributed by 442 authors across 132 institutions. Task topics are diverse, drawing problems from linguistics, childhood development, math, common-sense reasoning, biology, physics, social bias, software development, and beyond. BIG-bench focuses on tasks that are believed to be beyond the capabilities of current language models. We evaluate the behavior of OpenAI's GPT models, Google-internal dense transformer architectures, and Switch-style sparse transformers on BIG-bench, across model sizes spanning millions to hundreds of billions of parameters. In addition, a team of human expert raters performed all tasks in order to provide a strong baseline. Findings include: model performance and calibration both improve with scale, but are poor in absolute terms (and when compared with rater performance); performance is remarkably similar across model classes, though with benefits from sparsity; tasks that improve gradually and predictably commonly involve a large knowledge or memorization component, whereas tasks that exhibit "breakthrough" behavior at a critical scale often involve multiple steps or components, or brittle metrics; social bias typically increases with scale in settings with ambiguous context, but this can be improved with prompting.