Models, code, and papers for "chatbots":

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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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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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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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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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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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 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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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: https://github.com/jobpal/nex-cv 

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Beyond Patient Monitoring: Conversational Agents Role in Telemedicine & Healthcare Support For Home-Living Elderly Individuals

Mar 03, 2018
Ahmed Fadhil

There is a need for systems to dynamically interact with ageing populations to gather information, monitor health condition and provide support, especially after hospital discharge or at-home settings. Several smart devices have been delivered by digital health, bundled with telemedicine systems, smartphone and other digital services. While such solutions offer personalised data and suggestions, the real disruptive step comes from the interaction of new digital ecosystem, represented by chatbots. Chatbots will play a leading role by embodying the function of a virtual assistant and bridging the gap between patients and clinicians. Powered by AI and machine learning algorithms, chatbots are forecasted to save healthcare costs when used in place of a human or assist them as a preliminary step of helping to assess a condition and providing self-care recommendations. This paper describes integrating chatbots into telemedicine systems intended for elderly patient after their hospital discharge. The paper discusses possible ways to utilise chatbots to assist healthcare providers and support patients with their condition.

* 7 pages 

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On Chatbots Exhibiting Goal-Directed Autonomy in Dynamic Environments

Mar 26, 2018
Biplav Srivastava

Conversation interfaces (CIs), or chatbots, are a popular form of intelligent agents that engage humans in task-oriented or informal conversation. In this position paper and demonstration, we argue that chatbots working in dynamic environments, like with sensor data, can not only serve as a promising platform to research issues at the intersection of learning, reasoning, representation and execution for goal-directed autonomy; but also handle non-trivial business applications. We explore the underlying issues in the context of Water Advisor, a preliminary multi-modal conversation system that can access and explain water quality data.

* 3 pages 

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Towards a Continuous Knowledge Learning Engine for Chatbots

Feb 24, 2018
Sahisnu Mazumder, Nianzu Ma, Bing Liu

Although chatbots have been very popular in recent years, they still have some serious weaknesses which limit the scope of their applications. One major weakness is that they cannot learn new knowledge during the conversation process, i.e., their knowledge is fixed beforehand and cannot be expanded or updated during conversation. In this paper, we propose to build a general knowledge learning engine for chatbots to enable them to continuously and interactively learn new knowledge during conversations. As time goes by, they become more and more knowledgeable and better and better at learning and conversation. We model the task as an open-world knowledge base completion problem and propose a novel technique called lifelong interactive learning and inference (LiLi) to solve it. LiLi works by imitating how humans acquire knowledge and perform inference during an interactive conversation. Our experimental results show LiLi is highly promising.


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Lingke: A Fine-grained Multi-turn Chatbot for Customer Service

Aug 10, 2018
Pengfei Zhu, Zhuosheng Zhang, Jiangtong Li, Yafang Huang, Hai Zhao

Traditional chatbots usually need a mass of human dialogue data, especially when using supervised machine learning method. Though they can easily deal with single-turn question answering, for multi-turn the performance is usually unsatisfactory. In this paper, we present Lingke, an information retrieval augmented chatbot which is able to answer questions based on given product introduction document and deal with multi-turn conversations. We will introduce a fine-grained pipeline processing to distill responses based on unstructured documents, and attentive sequential context-response matching for multi-turn conversations.

* Accepted by COLING 2018 demonstration paper 

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The Design and Implementation of XiaoIce, an Empathetic Social Chatbot

Dec 21, 2018
Li Zhou, Jianfeng Gao, Di Li, Heung-Yeung Shum

This paper describes the development of the Microsoft XiaoIce system, the most popular social chatbot in the world. XiaoIce is uniquely designed as an AI companion with an emotional connection to satisfy the human need for communication, affection, and social belonging. We take into account both intelligent quotient (IQ) and emotional quotient (EQ) in system design, cast human-machine social chat as decision-making over Markov Decision Processes (MDPs), and optimize XiaoIce for long-term user engagement, measured in expected Conversation-turns Per Session (CPS). We detail the system architecture and key components including dialogue manager, core chat, skills, and an empathetic computing module. We show how XiaoIce dynamically recognizes human feelings and states, understands user intents, and responds to user needs throughout long conversations. Since the release in 2014, XiaoIce has communicated with over 660 million users and succeeded in establishing long-term relationships with many of them. Analysis of large-scale online logs shows that XiaoIce has achieved an average CPS of 23, which is significantly higher than that of other chatbots and even human conversations.


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Building Chatbots from Forum Data: Model Selection Using Question Answering Metrics

Oct 02, 2017
Martin Boyanov, Ivan Koychev, Preslav Nakov, Alessandro Moschitti, Giovanni Da San Martino

We propose to use question answering (QA) data from Web forums to train chatbots from scratch, i.e., without dialog training data. First, we extract pairs of question and answer sentences from the typically much longer texts of questions and answers in a forum. We then use these shorter texts to train seq2seq models in a more efficient way. We further improve the parameter optimization using a new model selection strategy based on QA measures. Finally, we propose to use extrinsic evaluation with respect to a QA task as an automatic evaluation method for chatbots. The evaluation shows that the model achieves a MAP of 63.5% on the extrinsic task. Moreover, it can answer correctly 49.5% of the questions when they are similar to questions asked in the forum, and 47.3% of the questions when they are more conversational in style.

* RANLP-2017 

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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 

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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 

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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.


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