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"chatbots": models, code, and papers

VIRATrustData: A Trust-Annotated Corpus of Human-Chatbot Conversations About COVID-19 Vaccines

May 24, 2022
Roni Friedman, João Sedoc, Shai Gretz, Assaf Toledo, Rose Weeks, Naor Bar-Zeev, Yoav Katz, Noam Slonim

Public trust in medical information is crucial for successful application of public health policies such as vaccine uptake. This is especially true when the information is offered remotely, by chatbots, which have become increasingly popular in recent years. Here, we explore the challenging task of human-bot turn-level trust classification. We rely on a recently released data of observationally-collected (rather than crowdsourced) dialogs with VIRA chatbot, a COVID-19 Vaccine Information Resource Assistant. These dialogs are centered around questions and concerns about COVID-19 vaccines, where trust is particularly acute. We annotated $3k$ VIRA system-user conversational turns for Low Institutional Trust or Low Agent Trust vs. Neutral or High Trust. We release the labeled dataset, VIRATrustData, the first of its kind to the best of our knowledge. We demonstrate how this task is non-trivial and compare several models that predict the different levels of trust.


Evaluation of In-Person Counseling Strategies To Develop Physical Activity Chatbot for Women

Jul 22, 2021
Kai-Hui Liang, Patrick Lange, Yoo Jung Oh, Jingwen Zhang, Yoshimi Fukuoka, Zhou Yu

Artificial intelligence chatbots are the vanguard in technology-based intervention to change people's behavior. To develop intervention chatbots, the first step is to understand natural language conversation strategies in human conversation. This work introduces an intervention conversation dataset collected from a real-world physical activity intervention program for women. We designed comprehensive annotation schemes in four dimensions (domain, strategy, social exchange, and task-focused exchange) and annotated a subset of dialogs. We built a strategy classifier with context information to detect strategies from both trainers and participants based on the annotation. To understand how human intervention induces effective behavior changes, we analyzed the relationships between the intervention strategies and the participants' changes in the barrier and social support for physical activity. We also analyzed how participant's baseline weight correlates to the amount of occurrence of the corresponding strategy. This work lays the foundation for developing a personalized physical activity intervention bot. The dataset and code are available at

* Accepted by SIGDIAL 2021 as a long paper 

A Reinforcement Learning-based Offensive semantics Censorship System for Chatbots

Jul 13, 2022
Shaokang Cai, Dezhi Han, Zibin Zheng, Dun Li, NoelCrespi

The rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI) technology has enabled large-scale AI applications to land in the market and practice. However, while AI technology has brought many conveniences to people in the productization process, it has also exposed many security issues. Especially, attacks against online learning vulnerabilities of chatbots occur frequently. Therefore, this paper proposes a semantics censorship chatbot system based on reinforcement learning, which is mainly composed of two parts: the Offensive semantics censorship model and the semantics purification model. Offensive semantics review can combine the context of user input sentences to detect the rapid evolution of Offensive semantics and respond to Offensive semantics responses. The semantics purification model For the case of chatting robot models, it has been contaminated by large numbers of offensive semantics, by strengthening the offensive reply learned by the learning algorithm, rather than rolling back to the early versions. In addition, by integrating a once-through learning approach, the speed of semantics purification is accelerated while reducing the impact on the quality of replies. The experimental results show that our proposed approach reduces the probability of the chat model generating offensive replies and that the integration of the few-shot learning algorithm improves the training speed rapidly while effectively slowing down the decline in BLEU values.


Goal-Oriented Chatbot Dialog Management Bootstrapping with Transfer Learning

Jul 24, 2018
Vladimir Ilievski, Claudiu Musat, Andreea Hossmann, Michael Baeriswyl

Goal-Oriented (GO) Dialogue Systems, colloquially known as goal oriented chatbots, help users achieve a predefined goal (e.g. book a movie ticket) within a closed domain. A first step is to understand the user's goal by using natural language understanding techniques. Once the goal is known, the bot must manage a dialogue to achieve that goal, which is conducted with respect to a learnt policy. The success of the dialogue system depends on the quality of the policy, which is in turn reliant on the availability of high-quality training data for the policy learning method, for instance Deep Reinforcement Learning. Due to the domain specificity, the amount of available data is typically too low to allow the training of good dialogue policies. In this paper we introduce a transfer learning method to mitigate the effects of the low in-domain data availability. Our transfer learning based approach improves the bot's success rate by 20% in relative terms for distant domains and we more than double it for close domains, compared to the model without transfer learning. Moreover, the transfer learning chatbots learn the policy up to 5 to 10 times faster. Finally, as the transfer learning approach is complementary to additional processing such as warm-starting, we show that their joint application gives the best outcomes.

* 7 pages (6 pages plus 1 page of references), 5 figures, 1 pseudocode figure 

Filtering before Iteratively Referring for Knowledge-Grounded Response Selection in Retrieval-Based Chatbots

Apr 30, 2020
Jia-Chen Gu, Zhen-Hua Ling, Quan Liu, Si Wei, Xiaodan Zhu

The challenges of building knowledge-grounded retrieval-based chatbots lie in how to ground a conversation on the background knowledge and how to perform their matching with the response. This paper proposes a method named Filtering before Iteratively REferring (FIRE) for presenting the background knowledge of dialogue agents in retrieval-based chatbots. We first propose a pre-filter, which is composed of a context filter and a knowledge filter. This pre-filter grounds the conversation on the knowledge and comprehends the knowledge according to the conversation by collecting the matching information between them bidirectionally, and then recognizing the important information in them accordingly. After that, iteratively referring is performed between the context and the response, as well as between the knowledge and the response, in order to collect the deep and wide matching information. Experimental results show that the FIRE model outperforms previous methods by margins larger than 2.8% on original personas and 4.1% on revised personas on the PERSONA-CHAT dataset, as well as 3.1% on the CMU_DoG dataset in terms of top-1 accuracy.


Deep Reinforcement Learning for Chatbots Using Clustered Actions and Human-Likeness Rewards

Aug 27, 2019
Heriberto Cuayáhuitl, Donghyeon Lee, Seonghan Ryu, Sungja Choi, Inchul Hwang, Jihie Kim

Training chatbots using the reinforcement learning paradigm is challenging due to high-dimensional states, infinite action spaces and the difficulty in specifying the reward function. We address such problems using clustered actions instead of infinite actions, and a simple but promising reward function based on human-likeness scores derived from human-human dialogue data. We train Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL) agents using chitchat data in raw text---without any manual annotations. Experimental results using different splits of training data report the following. First, that our agents learn reasonable policies in the environments they get familiarised with, but their performance drops substantially when they are exposed to a test set of unseen dialogues. Second, that the choice of sentence embedding size between 100 and 300 dimensions is not significantly different on test data. Third, that our proposed human-likeness rewards are reasonable for training chatbots as long as they use lengthy dialogue histories of >=10 sentences.

* In International Joint Conference of Neural Networks (IJCNN), 2019 

Incorporating Relevant Knowledge in Context Modeling and Response Generation

Nov 09, 2018
Yanran Li, Wenjie Li, Ziqiang Cao, Chengyao Chen

To sustain engaging conversation, it is critical for chatbots to make good use of relevant knowledge. Equipped with a knowledge base, chatbots are able to extract conversation-related attributes and entities to facilitate context modeling and response generation. In this work, we distinguish the uses of attribute and entity and incorporate them into the encoder-decoder architecture in different manners. Based on the augmented architecture, our chatbot, namely Mike, is able to generate responses by referring to proper entities from the collected knowledge. To validate the proposed approach, we build a movie conversation corpus on which the proposed approach significantly outperforms other four knowledge-grounded models.


Different but Equal: Comparing User Collaboration with Digital Personal Assistants vs. Teams of Expert Agents

Aug 24, 2018
Claudio S. Pinhanez, Heloisa Candello, Mauro C. Pichiliani, Marisa Vasconcelos, Melina Guerra, Maíra G. de Bayser, Paulo Cavalin

This work compares user collaboration with conversational personal assistants vs. teams of expert chatbots. Two studies were performed to investigate whether each approach affects accomplishment of tasks and collaboration costs. Participants interacted with two equivalent financial advice chatbot systems, one composed of a single conversational adviser and the other based on a team of four experts chatbots. Results indicated that users had different forms of experiences but were equally able to achieve their goals. Contrary to the expected, there were evidences that in the teamwork situation that users were more able to predict agent behavior better and did not have an overhead to maintain common ground, indicating similar collaboration costs. The results point towards the feasibility of either of the two approaches for user collaboration with conversational agents.


Towards Robust Online Dialogue Response Generation

Mar 07, 2022
Leyang Cui, Fandong Meng, Yijin Liu, Jie Zhou, Yue Zhang

Although pre-trained sequence-to-sequence models have achieved great success in dialogue response generation, chatbots still suffer from generating inconsistent responses in real-world practice, especially in multi-turn settings. We argue that this can be caused by a discrepancy between training and real-world testing. At training time, chatbot generates the response with the golden context, while it has to generate based on the context consisting of both user utterances and the model predicted utterances during real-world testing. With the growth of the number of utterances, this discrepancy becomes more serious in the multi-turn settings. In this paper, we propose a hierarchical sampling-based method consisting of both utterance-level sampling and semi-utterance-level sampling, to alleviate the discrepancy, which implicitly increases the dialogue coherence. We further adopt reinforcement learning and re-ranking methods to explicitly optimize the dialogue coherence during training and inference, respectively. Empirical experiments show the effectiveness of the proposed methods for improving the robustness of chatbots in real practice.


Conversational Agents for Insurance Companies: From Theory to Practice

Dec 18, 2019
Falko Koetter, Matthias Blohm, Jens Drawehn, Monika Kochanowski, Joscha Goetzer, Daniel Graziotin, Stefan Wagner

Advances in artificial intelligence have renewed interest in conversational agents. Additionally to software developers, today all kinds of employees show interest in new technologies and their possible applications for customers. German insurance companies generally are interested in improving their customer service and digitizing their business processes. In this work we investigate the potential use of conversational agents in insurance companies theoretically by determining which classes of agents exist which are of interest to insurance companies, finding relevant use cases and requirements. We add two practical parts: First we develop a showcase prototype for an exemplary insurance scenario in claim management. Additionally in a second step, we create a prototype focusing on customer service in a chatbot hackathon, fostering innovation in interdisciplinary teams. In this work, we describe the results of both prototypes in detail. We evaluate both chatbots defining criteria for both settings in detail and compare the results and draw conclusions for the maturity of chatbot technology for practical use, describing the opportunities and challenges companies, especially small and medium enterprises, face.

* Koetter F. et al. (2019) Conversational Agents for Insurance Companies: From Theory to Practice. In: Agents and Artificial Intelligence. ICAART 2019. LNCS, vol 11978. Springer, Cham 
* 26 pages, 7 figures. ICAART 2019 extension. Extension of arXiv:1812.07339