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"chatbots": models, code, and papers

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 

Improving Customer Service Chatbots with Attention-based Transfer Learning

Nov 24, 2021
Jordan J. Bird

With growing societal acceptance and increasing cost efficiency due to mass production, service robots are beginning to cross from the industrial to the social domain. Currently, customer service robots tend to be digital and emulate social interactions through on-screen text, but state-of-the-art research points towards physical robots soon providing customer service in person. This article explores two possibilities. Firstly, whether transfer learning can aid in the improvement of customer service chatbots between business domains. Secondly, the implementation of a framework for physical robots for in-person interaction. Modelled on social interaction with customer support Twitter accounts, transformer-based chatbot models are initially tasked to learn one domain from an initial random weight distribution. Given shared vocabulary, each model is then tasked with learning another domain by transferring knowledge from the prior. Following studies on 19 different businesses, results show that the majority of models are improved when transferring weights from at least one other domain, in particular those that are more data-scarce than others. General language transfer learning occurs, as well as higher-level transfer of similar domain knowledge in several cases. The chatbots are finally implemented on Temi and Pepper robots, with feasibility issues encountered and solutions are proposed to overcome them.


Chatbot Interaction with Artificial Intelligence: Human Data Augmentation with T5 and Language Transformer Ensemble for Text Classification

Oct 22, 2020
Jordan J. Bird, Anikó Ekárt, Diego R. Faria

In this work, we present the Chatbot Interaction with Artificial Intelligence (CI-AI) framework as an approach to the training of deep learning chatbots for task classification. The intelligent system augments human-sourced data via artificial paraphrasing in order to generate a large set of training data for further classical, attention, and language transformation-based learning approaches for Natural Language Processing. Human beings are asked to paraphrase commands and questions for task identification for further execution of a machine. The commands and questions are split into training and validation sets. A total of 483 responses were recorded. Secondly, the training set is paraphrased by the T5 model in order to augment it with further data. Seven state-of-the-art transformer-based text classification algorithms (BERT, DistilBERT, RoBERTa, DistilRoBERTa, XLM, XLM-RoBERTa, and XLNet) are benchmarked for both sets after fine-tuning on the training data for two epochs. We find that all models are improved when training data is augmented by the T5 model, with an average increase of classification accuracy by 4.01%. The best result was the RoBERTa model trained on T5 augmented data which achieved 98.96% classification accuracy. Finally, we found that an ensemble of the five best-performing transformer models via Logistic Regression of output label predictions led to an accuracy of 99.59% on the dataset of human responses. A highly-performing model allows the intelligent system to interpret human commands at the social-interaction level through a chatbot-like interface (e.g. "Robot, can we have a conversation?") and allows for better accessibility to AI by non-technical users.

* 18 pages, 10 figures, 8 tables 

Ultra-Fast, Low-Storage, Highly Effective Coarse-grained Selection in Retrieval-based Chatbot by Using Deep Semantic Hashing

Dec 18, 2020
Tian Lan, Xian-Ling Mao, Xiaoyan Gao, Wei Wei, Heyan Huang

We study the coarse-grained selection module in retrieval-based chatbot. Coarse-grained selection is a basic module in a retrieval-based chatbot, which constructs a rough candidate set from the whole database to speed up the interaction with customers. So far, there are two kinds of approaches for coarse-grained selection module: (1) sparse representation; (2) dense representation. To the best of our knowledge, there is no systematic comparison between these two approaches in retrieval-based chatbots, and which kind of method is better in real scenarios is still an open question. In this paper, we first systematically compare these two methods from four aspects: (1) effectiveness; (2) index stoarge; (3) search time cost; (4) human evaluation. Extensive experiment results demonstrate that dense representation method significantly outperforms the sparse representation, but costs more time and storage occupation. In order to overcome these fatal weaknesses of dense representation method, we propose an ultra-fast, low-storage, and highly effective Deep Semantic Hashing Coarse-grained selection method, called DSHC model. Specifically, in our proposed DSHC model, a hashing optimizing module that consists of two autoencoder models is stacked on a trained dense representation model, and three loss functions are designed to optimize it. The hash codes provided by hashing optimizing module effectively preserve the rich semantic and similarity information in dense vectors. Extensive experiment results prove that, our proposed DSHC model can achieve much faster speed and lower storage than sparse representation, with limited performance loss compared with dense representation. Besides, our source codes have been publicly released for future research.


A Voice Interactive Multilingual Student Support System using IBM Watson

Dec 20, 2019
Kennedy Ralston, Yuhao Chen, Haruna Isah, Farhana Zulkernine

Systems powered by artificial intelligence are being developed to be more user-friendly by communicating with users in a progressively human-like conversational way. Chatbots, also known as dialogue systems, interactive conversational agents, or virtual agents are an example of such systems used in a wide variety of applications ranging from customer support in the business domain to companionship in the healthcare sector. It is becoming increasingly important to develop chatbots that can best respond to the personalized needs of their users so that they can be as helpful to the user as possible in a real human way. This paper investigates and compares three popular existing chatbots API offerings and then propose and develop a voice interactive and multilingual chatbot that can effectively respond to users mood, tone, and language using IBM Watson Assistant, Tone Analyzer, and Language Translator. The chatbot was evaluated using a use case that was targeted at responding to users needs regarding exam stress based on university students survey data generated using Google Forms. The results of measuring the chatbot effectiveness at analyzing responses regarding exam stress indicate that the chatbot responding appropriately to the user queries regarding how they are feeling about exams 76.5%. The chatbot could also be adapted for use in other application areas such as student info-centers, government kiosks, and mental health support systems.

* 6 pages 

FinChat: Corpus and evaluation setup for Finnish chat conversations on everyday topics

Aug 19, 2020
Katri Leino, Juho Leinonen, Mittul Singh, Sami Virpioja, Mikko Kurimo

Creating open-domain chatbots requires large amounts of conversational data and related benchmark tasks to evaluate them. Standardized evaluation tasks are crucial for creating automatic evaluation metrics for model development; otherwise, comparing the models would require resource-expensive human evaluation. While chatbot challenges have recently managed to provide a plethora of such resources for English, resources in other languages are not yet available. In this work, we provide a starting point for Finnish open-domain chatbot research. We describe our collection efforts to create the Finnish chat conversation corpus FinChat, which is made available publicly. FinChat includes unscripted conversations on seven topics from people of different ages. Using this corpus, we also construct a retrieval-based evaluation task for Finnish chatbot development. We observe that off-the-shelf chatbot models trained on conversational corpora do not perform better than chance at choosing the right answer based on automatic metrics, while humans can do the same task almost perfectly. Similarly, in a human evaluation, responses to questions from the evaluation set generated by the chatbots are predominantly marked as incoherent. Thus, FinChat provides a challenging evaluation set, meant to encourage chatbot development in Finnish.


Spot The Bot: A Robust and Efficient Framework for the Evaluation of Conversational Dialogue Systems

Oct 05, 2020
Jan Deriu, Don Tuggener, Pius von Däniken, Jon Ander Campos, Alvaro Rodrigo, Thiziri Belkacem, Aitor Soroa, Eneko Agirre, Mark Cieliebak

The lack of time-efficient and reliable evaluation methods hamper the development of conversational dialogue systems (chatbots). Evaluations requiring humans to converse with chatbots are time and cost-intensive, put high cognitive demands on the human judges, and yield low-quality results. In this work, we introduce \emph{Spot The Bot}, a cost-efficient and robust evaluation framework that replaces human-bot conversations with conversations between bots. Human judges then only annotate for each entity in a conversation whether they think it is human or not (assuming there are humans participants in these conversations). These annotations then allow us to rank chatbots regarding their ability to mimic the conversational behavior of humans. Since we expect that all bots are eventually recognized as such, we incorporate a metric that measures which chatbot can uphold human-like behavior the longest, i.e., \emph{Survival Analysis}. This metric has the ability to correlate a bot's performance to certain of its characteristics (e.g., \ fluency or sensibleness), yielding interpretable results. The comparably low cost of our framework allows for frequent evaluations of chatbots during their evaluation cycle. We empirically validate our claims by applying \emph{Spot The Bot} to three domains, evaluating several state-of-the-art chatbots, and drawing comparisons to related work. The framework is released as a ready-to-use tool.


Using Meta-Knowledge Mined from Identifiers to Improve Intent Recognition in Neuro-Symbolic Algorithms

Dec 16, 2020
Claudio Pinhanez, Paulo Cavalin, Victor Ribeiro, Heloisa Candello, Julio Nogima, Ana Appel, Mauro Pichiliani, Maira Gatti de Bayser, Melina Guerra, Henrique Ferreira, Gabriel Malfatti

In this paper we explore the use of meta-knowledge embedded in intent identifiers to improve intent recognition in conversational systems. As evidenced by the analysis of thousands of real-world chatbots and in interviews with professional chatbot curators, developers and domain experts tend to organize the set of chatbot intents by identifying them using proto-taxonomies, i.e., meta-knowledge connecting high-level, symbolic concepts shared across different intents. By using neuro-symbolic algorithms able to incorporate such proto-taxonomies to expand intent representation, we show that such mined meta-knowledge can improve accuracy in intent recognition. In a dataset with intents and example utterances from hundreds of professional chatbots, we saw improvements of more than 10% in the equal error rate (EER) in almost a third of the chatbots when we apply those algorithms in comparison to a baseline of the same algorithms without the meta-knowledge. The meta-knowledge proved to be even more relevant in detecting out-of-scope utterances, decreasing the false acceptance rate (FAR) in more than 20\% in about half of the chatbots. The experiments demonstrate that such symbolic meta-knowledge structures can be effectively mined and used by neuro-symbolic algorithms, apparently by incorporating into the learning process higher-level structures of the problem being solved. Based on these results, we also discuss how the use of mined meta-knowledge can be an answer for the challenge of knowledge acquisition in neuro-symbolic algorithms.


LSTM-RASA Based Agri Farm Assistant for Farmers

Apr 07, 2022
Narayana Darapaneni, Selvakumar Raj, Raghul V, Venkatesh Sivaraman, Sunil Mohan, Anwesh Reddy Paduri

The application of Deep Learning and Natural Language based ChatBots are growing rapidly in recent years. They are used in many fields like customer support, reservation system and as personal assistant. The Enterprises are using such ChatBots to serve their customers in a better and efficient manner. Even after such technological advancement, the expert advice does not reach the farmers on timely manner. The farmers are still largely dependent on their peers knowledge in solving the problems they face in their field. These technologies have not been effectively used to give the required information to farmers on timely manner. This project aims to implement a closed domain ChatBot for the field of Agriculture Farmers Assistant. Farmers can have conversation with the Chatbot and get the expert advice in their field. Farmers Assistant is based on RASA Open Source Framework. The Chatbot identifies the intent and entity from user utterances and retrieve the remedy from the database and share it with the user. We tested the Bot with existing data and it showed promising results.