Distillation efforts have led to language models that are more compact and efficient without serious drops in performance. The standard approach to distillation trains a student model against two objectives: a task-specific objective (e.g., language modeling) and an imitation objective that encourages the hidden states of the student model to be similar to those of the larger teacher model. In this paper, we show that it is beneficial to augment distillation with a third objective that encourages the student to imitate the causal dynamics of the teacher through a distillation interchange intervention training objective (DIITO). DIITO pushes the student model to become a causal abstraction of the teacher model – a faithful model with simpler causal structure. DIITO is fully differentiable, easily implemented, and combines flexibly with other objectives. Compared against standard distillation with the same setting, DIITO results in lower perplexity on the WikiText-103M corpus (masked language modeling) and marked improvements on the GLUE benchmark (natural language understanding), SQuAD (question answering), and CoNLL-2003 (named entity recognition).
Current deep learning models often achieve excellent results on benchmark image-to-text datasets but fail to generate texts that are useful in practice. We argue that to close this gap, it is vital to distinguish descriptions from captions based on their distinct communicative roles. Descriptions focus on visual features and are meant to replace an image (often to increase accessibility), whereas captions appear alongside an image to supply additional information. To motivate this distinction and help people put it into practice, we introduce the publicly available Wikipedia-based dataset Concadia consisting of 96,918 images with corresponding English-language descriptions, captions, and surrounding context. Using insights from Concadia, models trained on it, and a preregistered human-subjects experiment with human- and model-generated texts, we characterize the commonalities and differences between descriptions and captions. In addition, we show that, for generating both descriptions and captions, it is useful to augment image-to-text models with representations of the textual context in which the image appeared.
Few images on the Web receive alt-text descriptions that would make them accessible to blind and low vision (BLV) users. Image-based NLG systems have progressed to the point where they can begin to address this persistent societal problem, but these systems will not be fully successful unless we evaluate them on metrics that guide their development correctly. Here, we argue against current referenceless metrics – those that don’t rely on human-generated ground-truth descriptions – on the grounds that they do not align with the needs of BLV users. The fundamental shortcoming of these metrics is that they do not take context into account, whereas contextual information is highly valued by BLV users. To substantiate these claims, we present a study with BLV participants who rated descriptions along a variety of dimensions. An in-depth analysis reveals that the lack of context-awareness makes current referenceless metrics inadequate for advancing image accessibility. As a proof-of-concept, we provide a contextual version of the referenceless metric CLIPScore which begins to address the disconnect to the BLV data.
Crime reporting is a prevalent form of journalism with the power to shape public perceptions and social policies. How does the language of these reports act on readers? We seek to address this question with the SuspectGuilt Corpus of annotated crime stories from English-language newspapers in the U.S. For SuspectGuilt, annotators read short crime articles and provided text-level ratings concerning the guilt of the main suspect as well as span-level annotations indicating which parts of the story they felt most influenced their ratings. SuspectGuilt thus provides a rich picture of how linguistic choices affect subjective guilt judgments. We use SuspectGuilt to train and assess predictive models which validate the usefulness of the corpus, and show that these models benefit from genre pretraining and joint supervision from the text-level ratings and span-level annotations. Such models might be used as tools for understanding the societal effects of crime reporting.