Communicating with humans is challenging for AIs because it requires a shared understanding of the world, complex semantics (e.g., metaphors or analogies), and at times multi-modal gestures (e.g., pointing with a finger, or an arrow in a diagram). We investigate these challenges in the context of Iconary, a collaborative game of drawing and guessing based on Pictionary, that poses a novel challenge for the research community. In Iconary, a Guesser tries to identify a phrase that a Drawer is drawing by composing icons, and the Drawer iteratively revises the drawing to help the Guesser in response. This back-and-forth often uses canonical scenes, visual metaphor, or icon compositions to express challenging words, making it an ideal test for mixing language and visual/symbolic communication in AI. We propose models to play Iconary and train them on over 55,000 games between human players. Our models are skillful players and are able to employ world knowledge in language models to play with words unseen during training.
Mirroring the success of masked language models, vision-and-language counterparts like VILBERT, LXMERT and UNITER have achieved state of the art performance on a variety of multimodal discriminative tasks like visual question answering and visual grounding. Recent work has also successfully adapted such models towards the generative task of image captioning. This begs the question: Can these models go the other way and generate images from pieces of text? Our analysis of a popular representative from this model family – LXMERT – finds that it is unable to generate rich and semantically meaningful imagery with its current training setup. We introduce X-LXMERT, an extension to LXMERT with training refinements including: discretizing visual representations, using uniform masking with a large range of masking ratios and aligning the right pre-training datasets to the right objectives which enables it to paint. X-LXMERT’s image generation capabilities rival state of the art generative models while its question answering and captioning abilities remains comparable to LXMERT. Finally, we demonstrate the generality of these training refinements by adding image generation capabilities into UNITER to produce X-UNITER.