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"chatbots": models, code, and papers

Put Chatbot into Its Interlocutor's Shoes: New Framework to Learn Chatbot Responding with Intention

Apr 12, 2021
Hsuan Su, Jiun-Hao Jhan, Fan-yun Sun, Saurav Sahay, Hung-yi Lee

Most chatbot literature that focuses on improving the fluency and coherence of a chatbot, is dedicated to making chatbots more human-like. However, very little work delves into what really separates humans from chatbots -- humans intrinsically understand the effect their responses have on the interlocutor and often respond with an intention such as proposing an optimistic view to make the interlocutor feel better. This paper proposes an innovative framework to train chatbots to possess human-like intentions. Our framework includes a guiding chatbot and an interlocutor model that plays the role of humans. The guiding chatbot is assigned an intention and learns to induce the interlocutor to reply with responses matching the intention, for example, long responses, joyful responses, responses with specific words, etc. We examined our framework using three experimental setups and evaluated the guiding chatbot with four different metrics to demonstrate flexibility and performance advantages. Additionally, we performed trials with human interlocutors to substantiate the guiding chatbot's effectiveness in influencing the responses of humans to a certain extent. Code will be made available to the public.

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"Love is as Complex as Math": Metaphor Generation System for Social Chatbot

Jan 03, 2020
Danning Zheng, Ruihua Song, Tianran Hu, Hao Fu, Jin Zhou

As the wide adoption of intelligent chatbot in human daily life, user demands for such systems evolve from basic task-solving conversations to more casual and friend-like communication. To meet the user needs and build emotional bond with users, it is essential for social chatbots to incorporate more human-like and advanced linguistic features. In this paper, we investigate the usage of a commonly used rhetorical device by human -- metaphor for social chatbot. Our work first designs a metaphor generation framework, which generates topic-aware and novel figurative sentences. By embedding the framework into a chatbot system, we then enables the chatbot to communicate with users using figurative language. Human annotators validate the novelty and properness of the generated metaphors. More importantly, we evaluate the effects of employing metaphors in human-chatbot conversations. Experiments indicate that our system effectively arouses user interests in communicating with our chatbot, resulting in significantly longer human-chatbot conversations.

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If I Hear You Correctly: Building and Evaluating Interview Chatbots with Active Listening Skills

Feb 05, 2020
Ziang Xiao, Michelle X. Zhou, Wenxi Chen, Huahai Yang, Changyan Chi

Interview chatbots engage users in a text-based conversation to draw out their views and opinions. It is, however, challenging to build effective interview chatbots that can handle user free-text responses to open-ended questions and deliver engaging user experience. As the first step, we are investigating the feasibility and effectiveness of using publicly available, practical AI technologies to build effective interview chatbots. To demonstrate feasibility, we built a prototype scoped to enable interview chatbots with a subset of active listening skills - the abilities to comprehend a user's input and respond properly. To evaluate the effectiveness of our prototype, we compared the performance of interview chatbots with or without active listening skills on four common interview topics in a live evaluation with 206 users. Our work presents practical design implications for building effective interview chatbots, hybrid chatbot platforms, and empathetic chatbots beyond interview tasks.

* Working draft. To appear in the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2020) 

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Tell Me About Yourself: Using an AI-Powered Chatbot to Conduct Conversational Surveys

May 25, 2019
Ziang Xiao, Michelle X. Zhou, Q. Vera Liao, Gloria Mark, Changyan Chi, Wenxi Chen, Huahai Yang

The rise of increasingly more powerful chatbots offers a new way to collect information through conversational surveys, where a chatbot asks open-ended questions, interprets a user's free-text responses, and probes answers when needed. To investigate the effectiveness and limitations of such a chatbot in conducting surveys, we conducted a field study involving about 600 participants. In this study, half of the participants took a typical online survey on Qualtrics and the other half interacted with an AI-powered chatbot to complete a conversational survey. Our detailed analysis of over 5200 free-text responses revealed that the chatbot drove a significantly higher level of participant engagement and elicited significantly better quality responses in terms of relevance, depth, and readability. Based on our results, we discuss design implications for creating AI-powered chatbots to conduct effective surveys and beyond.

* Currently under review 

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From Eliza to XiaoIce: Challenges and Opportunities with Social Chatbots

Feb 09, 2018
Heung-Yeung Shum, Xiaodong He, Di Li

Conversational systems have come a long way since their inception in the 1960s. After decades of research and development, we've seen progress from Eliza and Parry in the 60's and 70's, to task-completion systems as in the DARPA Communicator program in the 2000s, to intelligent personal assistants such as Siri in the 2010s, to today's social chatbots like XiaoIce. Social chatbots' appeal lies not only in their ability to respond to users' diverse requests, but also in being able to establish an emotional connection with users. The latter is done by satisfying users' need for communication, affection, as well as social belonging. To further the advancement and adoption of social chatbots, their design must focus on user engagement and take both intellectual quotient (IQ) and emotional quotient (EQ) into account. Users should want to engage with a social chatbot; as such, we define the success metric for social chatbots as conversation-turns per session (CPS). Using XiaoIce as an illustrative example, we discuss key technologies in building social chatbots from core chat to visual awareness to skills. We also show how XiaoIce can dynamically recognize emotion and engage the user throughout long conversations with appropriate interpersonal responses. As we become the first generation of humans ever living with AI, we have a responsibility to design social chatbots to be both useful and empathetic, so they will become ubiquitous and help society as a whole.

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Deep Learning Based Chatbot Models

Aug 23, 2019
Richard Csaky

A conversational agent (chatbot) is a piece of software that is able to communicate with humans using natural language. Modeling conversation is an important task in natural language processing and artificial intelligence. While chatbots can be used for various tasks, in general they have to understand users' utterances and provide responses that are relevant to the problem at hand. In my work, I conduct an in-depth survey of recent literature, examining over 70 publications related to chatbots published in the last 3 years. Then, I proceed to make the argument that the very nature of the general conversation domain demands approaches that are different from current state-of-of-the-art architectures. Based on several examples from the literature I show why current chatbot models fail to take into account enough priors when generating responses and how this affects the quality of the conversation. In the case of chatbots, these priors can be outside sources of information that the conversation is conditioned on like the persona or mood of the conversers. In addition to presenting the reasons behind this problem, I propose several ideas on how it could be remedied. The next section focuses on adapting the very recent Transformer model to the chatbot domain, which is currently state-of-the-art in neural machine translation. I first present experiments with the vanilla model, using conversations extracted from the Cornell Movie-Dialog Corpus. Secondly, I augment the model with some of my ideas regarding the issues of encoder-decoder architectures. More specifically, I feed additional features into the model like mood or persona together with the raw conversation data. Finally, I conduct a detailed analysis of how the vanilla model performs on conversational data by comparing it to previous chatbot models and how the additional features affect the quality of the generated responses.

* 67 pages. Written in October of 2017 for a university conference. In April of 2019, it won first place at the Hungarian Scientific Students' Associations Report, which is a national competition-like conference for students 

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An ontology-based chatbot for crises management: use case coronavirus

Nov 02, 2020
Khouloud Hwerbi

Today is the era of intelligence in machines. With the advances in Artificial Intelligence, machines have started to impersonate different human traits, a chatbot is the next big thing in the domain of conversational services. A chatbot is a virtual person who is capable to carry out a natural conversation with people. They can include skills that enable them to converse with the humans in audio, visual, or textual formats. Artificial intelligence conversational entities, also called chatbots, conversational agents, or dialogue system, are an excellent example of such machines. Obtaining the right information at the right time and place is the key to effective disaster management. The term "disaster management" encompasses both natural and human-caused disasters. To assist citizens, our project is to create a COVID Assistant to provide the need of up to date information to be available 24 hours. With the growth in the World Wide Web, it is quite intelligible that users are interested in the swift and relatedly correct information for their hunt. A chatbot can be seen as a question-and-answer system in which experts provide knowledge to solicit users. This master thesis is dedicated to discuss COVID Assistant chatbot and explain each component in detail. The design of the proposed chatbot is introduced by its seven components: Ontology, Web Scraping module, DB, State Machine, keyword Extractor, Trained chatbot, and User Interface.

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A Comparison of Natural Language Understanding Platforms for Chatbots in Software Engineering

Dec 04, 2020
Ahmad Abdellatif, Khaled Badran, Diego Elias Costa, Emad Shihab

Chatbots are envisioned to dramatically change the future of Software Engineering, allowing practitioners to chat and inquire about their software projects and interact with different services using natural language. At the heart of every chatbot is a Natural Language Understanding (NLU) component that enables the chatbot to understand natural language input. Recently, many NLU platforms were provided to serve as an off-the-shelf NLU component for chatbots, however, selecting the best NLU for Software Engineering chatbots remains an open challenge. Therefore, in this paper, we evaluate four of the most commonly used NLUs, namely IBM Watson, Google Dialogflow, Rasa, and Microsoft LUIS to shed light on which NLU should be used in Software Engineering based chatbots. Specifically, we examine the NLUs' performance in classifying intents, confidence scores stability, and extracting entities. To evaluate the NLUs, we use two datasets that reflect two common tasks performed by Software Engineering practitioners, 1) the task of chatting with the chatbot to ask questions about software repositories 2) the task of asking development questions on Q&A forums (e.g., Stack Overflow). According to our findings, IBM Watson is the best performing NLU when considering the three aspects (intents classification, confidence scores, and entity extraction). However, the results from each individual aspect show that, in intents classification, IBM Watson performs the best with an F1-measure > 84%, but in confidence scores, Rasa comes on top with a median confidence score higher than 0.91. Our results also show that all NLUs, except for Dialogflow, generally provide trustable confidence scores. For entity extraction, Microsoft LUIS and IBM Watson outperform other NLUs in the two SE tasks. Our results provide guidance to software engineering practitioners when deciding which NLU to use in their chatbots.

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Emotionally-Aware Chatbots: A Survey

Jun 24, 2019
Endang Wahyu Pamungkas

Textual conversational agent or chatbots' development gather tremendous traction from both academia and industries in recent years. Nowadays, chatbots are widely used as an agent to communicate with a human in some services such as booking assistant, customer service, and also a personal partner. The biggest challenge in building chatbot is to build a humanizing machine to improve user engagement. Some studies show that emotion is an important aspect to humanize machine, including chatbot. In this paper, we will provide a systematic review of approaches in building an emotionally-aware chatbot (EAC). As far as our knowledge, there is still no work focusing on this area. We propose three research question regarding EAC studies. We start with the history and evolution of EAC, then several approaches to build EAC by previous studies, and some available resources in building EAC. Based on our investigation, we found that in the early development, EAC exploits a simple rule-based approach while now most of EAC use neural-based approach. We also notice that most of EAC contain emotion classifier in their architecture, which utilize several available affective resources. We also predict that the development of EAC will continue to gain more and more attention from scholars, noted by some recent studies propose new datasets for building EAC in various languages.

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Developing FB Chatbot Based on Deep Learning Using RASA Framework for University Enquiries

Sep 25, 2020
Yurio Windiatmoko, Ahmad Fathan Hidayatullah, Ridho Rahmadi

Smart systems for Universities powered by Artificial Intelligence have been massively developed to help humans in various tasks. The chatbot concept is not something new in today society which is developing with recent technology. College students or candidates of college students often need actual information like asking for something to customer service, especially during this pandemic, when it is difficult to have an immediate face-to-face meeting. Chatbots are functionally helping in several things such as curriculum information, admission for new students, schedule info for any lecture courses, students grade information, and some adding features for Muslim worships schedule, also weather forecast information. This Chatbot is developed by Deep Learning models, which was adopted by an artificial intelligence model that replicates human intelligence with some specific training schemes. This kind of Deep Learning is based on RNN which has some specific memory savings scheme for the Deep Learning Model, specifically this chatbot using LSTM which already integrates by RASA framework. LSTM is also known as Long Short Term Memory which efficiently saves some required memory but will remove some memory that is not needed. This Chatbot uses the FB platform because of the FB users have already reached up to 60.8% of its entire population in Indonesia. Here's the chatbot only focuses on case studies at campus of the Magister Informatics FTI University of Islamic Indonesia. This research is a first stage development within fairly sufficient simulate data.

* 15 pages, 11 figures, prepare for ICITDA conference Batch 3 

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Churn Intent Detection in Multilingual Chatbot Conversations and Social Media

Aug 25, 2018
Christian Abbet, Meryem M'hamdi, Athanasios Giannakopoulos, Robert West, Andreea Hossmann, Michael Baeriswyl, Claudiu Musat

We propose a new method to detect when users express the intent to leave a service, also known as churn. While previous work focuses solely on social media, we show that this intent can be detected in chatbot conversations. As companies increasingly rely on chatbots they need an overview of potentially churny users. To this end, we crowdsource and publish a dataset of churn intent expressions in chatbot interactions in German and English. We show that classifiers trained on social media data can detect the same intent in the context of chatbots. We introduce a classification architecture that outperforms existing work on churn intent detection in social media. Moreover, we show that, using bilingual word embeddings, a system trained on combined English and German data outperforms monolingual approaches. As the only existing dataset is in English, we crowdsource and publish a novel dataset of German tweets. We thus underline the universal aspect of the problem, as examples of churn intent in English help us identify churn in German tweets and chatbot conversations.

* 10 pages 

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A Multilingual African Embedding for FAQ Chatbots

Mar 16, 2021
Aymen Ben Elhaj Mabrouk, Moez Ben Haj Hmida, Chayma Fourati, Hatem Haddad, Abir Messaoudi

Searching for an available, reliable, official, and understandable information is not a trivial task due to scattered information across the internet, and the availability lack of governmental communication channels communicating with African dialects and languages. In this paper, we introduce an Artificial Intelligence Powered chatbot for crisis communication that would be omnichannel, multilingual and multi dialectal. We present our work on modified StarSpace embedding tailored for African dialects for the question-answering task along with the architecture of the proposed chatbot system and a description of the different layers. English, French, Arabic, Tunisian, Igbo,Yor\`ub\'a, and Hausa are used as languages and dialects. Quantitative and qualitative evaluation results are obtained for our real deployed Covid-19 chatbot. Results show that users are satisfied and the conversation with the chatbot is meeting customer needs.

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Applying Chatbots to the Internet of Things: Opportunities and Architectural Elements

Nov 11, 2016
Rohan Kar, Rishin Haldar

Internet of Things (IoT) is emerging as a significant technology in shaping the future by connecting physical devices or things with internet. It also presents various opportunities for intersection of other technological trends which can allow it to become even more intelligent and efficient. In this paper we focus our attention on the integration of Intelligent Conversational Software Agents or Chatbots with IoT. Literature surveys have looked into various applications, features, underlying technologies and known challenges of IoT. On the other hand, Chatbots are being adopted in greater numbers due to major strides in development of platforms and frameworks. The novelty of this paper lies in the specific integration of Chatbots in the IoT scenario. We analyzed the shortcomings of existing IoT systems and put forward ways to tackle them by incorporating chatbots. A general architecture is proposed for implementing such a system, as well as platforms and frameworks, both commercial and open source, which allow for implementation of such systems. Identification of the newer challenges and possible future directions with this new integration, have also been addressed.

* 9 pages, 3 figures, 5 Use Cases 

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Learning Improvised Chatbots from Adversarial Modifications of Natural Language Feedback

Oct 15, 2020
Makesh Narsimhan Sreedhar, Kun Ni, Siva Reddy

The ubiquitous nature of chatbots and their interaction with users generate an enormous amount of data. Can we improve chatbots using this data? A self-feeding chatbot improves itself by asking natural language feedback when a user is dissatisfied with its response and uses this feedback as an additional training sample. However, user feedback in most cases contains extraneous sequences hindering their usefulness as a training sample. In this work, we propose a generative adversarial model that converts noisy feedback into a plausible natural response in a conversation. The generator's goal is to convert the feedback into a response that answers the user's previous utterance and to fool the discriminator which distinguishes feedback from natural responses. We show that augmenting original training data with these modified feedback responses improves the original chatbot performance from 69.94% to 75.96% in ranking correct responses on the Personachat dataset, a large improvement given that the original model is already trained on 131k samples.

* Accepted for publication at Findings of EMNLP 2020 

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Ensemble-Based Deep Reinforcement Learning for Chatbots

Aug 27, 2019
Heriberto Cuayáhuitl, Donghyeon Lee, Seonghan Ryu, Yongjin Cho, Sungja Choi, Satish Indurthi, Seunghak Yu, Hyungtak Choi, Inchul Hwang, Jihie Kim

Trainable chatbots that exhibit fluent and human-like conversations remain a big challenge in artificial intelligence. Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL) is promising for addressing this challenge, but its successful application remains an open question. This article describes a novel ensemble-based approach applied to value-based DRL chatbots, which use finite action sets as a form of meaning representation. In our approach, while dialogue actions are derived from sentence clustering, the training datasets in our ensemble are derived from dialogue clustering. The latter aim to induce specialised agents that learn to interact in a particular style. In order to facilitate neural chatbot training using our proposed approach, we assume dialogue data in raw text only -- without any manually-labelled data. Experimental results using chitchat data reveal that (1) near human-like dialogue policies can be induced, (2) generalisation to unseen data is a difficult problem, and (3) training an ensemble of chatbot agents is essential for improved performance over using a single agent. In addition to evaluations using held-out data, our results are further supported by a human evaluation that rated dialogues in terms of fluency, engagingness and consistency -- which revealed that our proposed dialogue rewards strongly correlate with human judgements.

* arXiv admin note: text overlap with arXiv:1908.10331 

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Chatbots as conversational healthcare services

Nov 08, 2020
Mlađan Jovanović, Marcos Baez, Fabio Casati

Chatbots are emerging as a promising platform for accessing and delivering healthcare services. The evidence is in the growing number of publicly available chatbots aiming at taking an active role in the provision of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment services. This article takes a closer look at how these emerging chatbots address design aspects relevant to healthcare service provision, emphasizing the Human-AI interaction aspects and the transparency in AI automation and decision making.

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Argument Harvesting Using Chatbots

May 11, 2018
Lisa A. Chalaguine, Anthony Hunter, Henry W. W. Potts, Fiona L. Hamilton

Much research in computational argumentation assumes that arguments and counterarguments can be obtained in some way. Yet, to improve and apply models of argument, we need methods for acquiring them. Current approaches include argument mining from text, hand coding of arguments by researchers, or generating arguments from knowledge bases. In this paper, we propose a new approach, which we call argument harvesting, that uses a chatbot to enter into a dialogue with a participant to get arguments and counterarguments from him or her. Because it is automated, the chatbot can be used repeatedly in many dialogues, and thereby it can generate a large corpus. We describe the architecture of the chatbot, provide methods for managing a corpus of arguments and counterarguments, and an evaluation of our approach in a case study concerning attitudes of women to participation in sport.

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Impact of Argument Type and Concerns in Argumentation with a Chatbot

May 02, 2019
Lisa A. Chalaguine, Anthony Hunter, Fiona L. Hamilton, Henry W. W. Potts

Conversational agents, also known as chatbots, are versatile tools that have the potential of being used in dialogical argumentation. They could possibly be deployed in tasks such as persuasion for behaviour change (e.g. persuading people to eat more fruit, to take regular exercise, etc.) However, to achieve this, there is a need to develop methods for acquiring appropriate arguments and counterargument that reflect both sides of the discussion. For instance, to persuade someone to do regular exercise, the chatbot needs to know counterarguments that the user might have for not doing exercise. To address this need, we present methods for acquiring arguments and counterarguments, and importantly, meta-level information that can be useful for deciding when arguments can be used during an argumentation dialogue. We evaluate these methods in studies with participants and show how harnessing these methods in a chatbot can make it more persuasive.

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A Scalable Chatbot Platform Leveraging Online Community Posts: A Proof-of-Concept Study

Jan 10, 2020
Sihyeon Jo, Sangwon Im, SangWook Han, Seung Hee Yang, Hee-Eun Kim, Seong-Woo Kim

The development of natural language processing algorithms and the explosive growth of conversational data are encouraging researches on the human-computer conversation. Still, getting qualified conversational data on a large scale is difficult and expensive. In this paper, we verify the feasibility of constructing a data-driven chatbot with processed online community posts by using them as pseudo-conversational data. We argue that chatbots for various purposes can be built extensively through the pipeline exploiting the common structure of community posts. Our experiment demonstrates that chatbots created along the pipeline can yield the proper responses.

* To be Published on the 10th February, 2020, in HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) Conference 2020, Republic of Korea 

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