Despite their widespread adoption, neural conversation models have yet to exhibit natural chat capabilities with humans. In this research, we examine user utterances as causes and generated responses as effects, recognizing that changes in a cause should produce a different effect. To further explore this concept, we have compiled and expanded upon a new dataset called CausalDialogue through crowd-sourcing. This dataset includes multiple cause-effect pairs within a directed acyclic graph (DAG) structure. Our analysis reveals that traditional loss functions struggle to effectively incorporate the DAG structure, leading us to propose a causality-enhanced method called Exponential Maximum Average Treatment Effect (ExMATE) to enhance the impact of causality at the utterance level in training neural conversation models. To evaluate the needs of considering causality in dialogue generation, we built a comprehensive benchmark on CausalDialogue dataset using different models, inference, and training methods. Through experiments, we find that a causality-inspired loss like ExMATE can improve the diversity and agility of conventional loss function and there is still room for improvement to reach human-level quality on this new dataset.
Dialog Structure Induction (DSI) is the task of inferring the latent dialog structure (i.e., a set of dialog states and their temporal transitions) of a given goal-oriented dialog. It is a critical component for modern dialog system design and discourse analysis. Existing DSI approaches are often purely data-driven, deploy models that infer latent states without access to domain knowledge, underperform when the training corpus is limited/noisy, or have difficulty when test dialogs exhibit distributional shifts from the training domain. This work explores a neural-symbolic approach as a potential solution to these problems. We introduce Neural Probabilistic Soft Logic Dialogue Structure Induction (NEUPSL DSI), a principled approach that injects symbolic knowledge into the latent space of a generative neural model. We conduct a thorough empirical investigation on the effect of NEUPSL DSI learning on hidden representation quality, few-shot learning, and out-of-domain generalization performance. Over three dialog structure induction datasets and across unsupervised and semi-supervised settings for standard and cross-domain generalization, the injection of symbolic knowledge using NEUPSL DSI provides a consistent boost in performance over the canonical baselines.
Task transfer, transferring knowledge contained in related tasks, holds the promise of reducing the quantity of labeled data required to fine-tune language models. Dialogue understanding encompasses many diverse tasks, yet task transfer has not been thoroughly studied in conversational AI. This work explores conversational task transfer by introducing FETA: a benchmark for FEw-sample TAsk transfer in open-domain dialogue.FETA contains two underlying sets of conversations upon which there are 10 and 7 tasks annotated, enabling the study of intra-dataset task transfer; task transfer without domain adaptation. We utilize three popular language models and three learning algorithms to analyze the transferability between 132 source-target task pairs and create a baseline for future work. We run experiments in the single- and multi-source settings and report valuable findings, e.g., most performance trends are model-specific, and span extraction and multiple-choice tasks benefit the most from task transfer. In addition to task transfer, FETA can be a valuable resource for future research into the efficiency and generalizability of pre-training datasets and model architectures, as well as for learning settings such as continual and multitask learning.