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"chatbots": models, code, and papers

GoChat: Goal-oriented Chatbots with Hierarchical Reinforcement Learning

May 26, 2020
Jianfeng Liu, Feiyang Pan, Ling Luo

A chatbot that converses like a human should be goal-oriented (i.e., be purposeful in conversation), which is beyond language generation. However, existing dialogue systems often heavily rely on cumbersome hand-crafted rules or costly labelled datasets to reach the goals. In this paper, we propose Goal-oriented Chatbots (GoChat), a framework for end-to-end training chatbots to maximize the longterm return from offline multi-turn dialogue datasets. Our framework utilizes hierarchical reinforcement learning (HRL), where the high-level policy guides the conversation towards the final goal by determining some sub-goals, and the low-level policy fulfills the sub-goals by generating the corresponding utterance for response. In our experiments on a real-world dialogue dataset for anti-fraud in financial, our approach outperforms previous methods on both the quality of response generation as well as the success rate of accomplishing the goal.

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Did Chatbots Miss Their 'Apollo Moment'? A Survey of the Potential, Gaps and Lessons from Using Collaboration Assistants During COVID-19

Feb 27, 2021
Biplav Srivastava

Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies have long been positioned as a tool to provide crucial data-driven decision support to people. In this survey paper, we look at how AI in general, and collaboration assistants (CAs or chatbots for short) in particular, have been used during a true global exigency - the COVID-19 pandemic. The key observation is that chatbots missed their "Apollo moment" when they could have really provided contextual, personalized, reliable decision support at scale that the state-of-the-art makes possible. We review the existing capabilities that are feasible and methods, identify the potential that chatbots could have met, the use-cases they were deployed on, the challenges they faced and gaps that persisted, and draw lessons that, if implemented, would make them more relevant in future health emergencies.

* 9 pages 
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A Deep Learning Based Chatbot for Campus Psychological Therapy

Oct 09, 2019
Junjie Yin, Zixun Chen, Kelai Zhou, Chongyuan Yu

In this paper, we propose Evebot, an innovative, sequence to sequence (Seq2seq) based, fully generative conversational system for the diagnosis of negative emotions and prevention of depression through positively suggestive responses. The system consists of an assembly of deep-learning based models, including Bi-LSTM based model for detecting negative emotions of users and obtaining psychological counselling related corpus for training the chatbot, anti-language sequence to sequence neural network, and maximum mutual information (MMI) model. As adolescents are reluctant to show their negative emotions in physical interaction, traditional methods of emotion analysis and comforting methods may not work. Therefore, this system puts emphasis on using virtual platform to detect signs of depression or anxiety, channel adolescents' stress and mood, and thus prevent the emergence of mental illness. We launched the integrated chatbot system onto an online platform for real-world campus applications. Through a one-month user study, we observe better results in the increase in positivity than other public chatbots in the control group.

* 31 pages 
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Clustering Vietnamese Conversations From Facebook Page To Build Training Dataset For Chatbot

Jan 03, 2022
Trieu Hai Nguyen, Thi-Kim-Ngoan Pham, Thi-Hong-Minh Bui, Thanh-Quynh-Chau Nguyen

The biggest challenge of building chatbots is training data. The required data must be realistic and large enough to train chatbots. We create a tool to get actual training data from Facebook messenger of a Facebook page. After text preprocessing steps, the newly obtained dataset generates FVnC and Sample dataset. We use the Retraining of BERT for Vietnamese (PhoBERT) to extract features of our text data. K-Means and DBSCAN clustering algorithms are used for clustering tasks based on output embeddings from PhoBERT$_{base}$. We apply V-measure score and Silhouette score to evaluate the performance of clustering algorithms. We also demonstrate the efficiency of PhoBERT compared to other models in feature extraction on the Sample dataset and wiki dataset. A GridSearch algorithm that combines both clustering evaluations is also proposed to find optimal parameters. Thanks to clustering such a number of conversations, we save a lot of time and effort to build data and storylines for training chatbot.

* Preprint submitted to JJCIT (Revised version, December 10, 2021) 
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CASS: Towards Building a Social-Support Chatbot for Online Health Community

Feb 04, 2021
Liuping Wang, Dakuo Wang, Feng Tian, Zhenhui Peng, Xiangmin Fan, Zhan Zhang, Shuai Ma, Mo Yu, Xiaojuan Ma, Hongan Wang

Chatbots systems, despite their popularity in today's HCI and CSCW research, fall short for one of the two reasons: 1) many of the systems use a rule-based dialog flow, thus they can only respond to a limited number of pre-defined inputs with pre-scripted responses; or 2) they are designed with a focus on single-user scenarios, thus it is unclear how these systems may affect other users or the community. In this paper, we develop a generalizable chatbot architecture (CASS) to provide social support for community members in an online health community. The CASS architecture is based on advanced neural network algorithms, thus it can handle new inputs from users and generate a variety of responses to them. CASS is also generalizable as it can be easily migrate to other online communities. With a follow-up field experiment, CASS is proven useful in supporting individual members who seek emotional support. Our work also contributes to fill the research gap on how a chatbot may influence the whole community's engagement.

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Evaluation and Improvement of Chatbot Text Classification Data Quality Using Plausible Negative Examples

Jun 05, 2019
Kit Kuksenok, Andriy Martyniv

We describe and validate a metric for estimating multi-class classifier performance based on cross-validation and adapted for improvement of small, unbalanced natural-language datasets used in chatbot design. Our experiences draw upon building recruitment chatbots that mediate communication between job-seekers and recruiters by exposing the ML/NLP dataset to the recruiting team. Evaluation approaches must be understandable to various stakeholders, and useful for improving chatbot performance. The metric, nex-cv, uses negative examples in the evaluation of text classification, and fulfils three requirements. First, it is actionable: it can be used by non-developer staff. Second, it is not overly optimistic compared to human ratings, making it a fast method for comparing classifiers. Third, it allows model-agnostic comparison, making it useful for comparing systems despite implementation differences. We validate the metric based on seven recruitment-domain datasets in English and German over the course of one year.

* Included in the ACL2019 1st workshop on NLP for Conversational AI (Florence, Italy). Code available: 
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Guiding Topic Flows in the Generative Chatbot by Enhancing the ConceptNet with the Conversation Corpora

Sep 14, 2021
Pengda Si, Yao Qiu, Jinchao Zhang, Yujiu Yang

Human conversations consist of reasonable and natural topic flows, which are observed as the shifts of the mentioned concepts across utterances. Previous chatbots that incorporate the external commonsense knowledge graph prove that modeling the concept shifts can effectively alleviate the dull and uninformative response dilemma. However, there still exists a gap between the concept relations in the natural conversation and those in the external commonsense knowledge graph, which is an issue to solve. Specifically, the concept relations in the external commonsense knowledge graph are not intuitively built from the conversational scenario but the world knowledge, which makes them insufficient for the chatbot construction. To bridge the above gap, we propose the method to supply more concept relations extracted from the conversational corpora and reconstruct an enhanced concept graph for the chatbot construction. In addition, we present a novel, powerful, and fast graph encoding architecture named the Edge-Transformer to replace the traditional GNN architecture. Experimental results on the Reddit conversation dataset indicate our proposed method significantly outperforms strong baseline systems and achieves new SOTA results. Further analysis individually proves the effectiveness of the enhanced concept graph and the Edge-Transformer architecture.

* 13 pages, 5 figures 
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Making the case for audience design in conversational AI: Rapport expectations and language ideologies in a task-oriented chatbot

Jun 21, 2022
Doris Dippold

Chatbots are more and more prevalent in commercial and science contexts. They help customers complain about a product or service or support them to find the best travel deals. Other bots provide mental health support or help book medical appointments. This paper argues that insights into users' language ideologies and their rapport expectations can be used to inform the audience design of the bot's language and interaction patterns and ensure equitable access to the services provided by bots. The argument is underpinned by three kinds of data: simulated user interactions with a chatbot facilitating health appointment bookings, users' introspective comments on their interactions and users' qualitative survey comments post engagement with the booking bot. In closing, I will define audience design for conversational AI and discuss how user-centred analyses of chatbot interactions and sociolinguistically informed theoretical approaches, such as rapport management, can be used to support audience design.

* 29 pages 
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