Eric Michael Smith


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I’m sorry to hear that”: Finding New Biases in Language Models with a Holistic Descriptor Dataset
Eric Michael Smith | Melissa Hall | Melanie Kambadur | Eleonora Presani | Adina Williams
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

As language models grow in popularity, it becomes increasingly important to clearly measure all possible markers of demographic identity in order to avoid perpetuating existing societal harms. Many datasets for measuring bias currently exist, but they are restricted in their coverage of demographic axes and are commonly used with preset bias tests that presuppose which types of biases models can exhibit. In this work, we present a new, more inclusive bias measurement dataset, HolisticBias, which includes nearly 600 descriptor terms across 13 different demographic axes. HolisticBias was assembled in a participatory process including experts and community members with lived experience of these terms. These descriptors combine with a set of bias measurement templates to produce over 450,000 unique sentence prompts, which we use to explore, identify, and reduce novel forms of bias in several generative models. We demonstrate that HolisticBias is effective at measuring previously undetectable biases in token likelihoods from language models, as well as in an offensiveness classifier. We will invite additions and amendments to the dataset, which we hope will serve as a basis for more easy-to-use and standardized methods for evaluating bias in NLP models.

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Perturbation Augmentation for Fairer NLP
Rebecca Qian | Candace Ross | Jude Fernandes | Eric Michael Smith | Douwe Kiela | Adina Williams
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Unwanted and often harmful social biases are becoming ever more salient in NLP research, affecting both models and datasets. In this work, we ask whether training on demographically perturbed data leads to fairer language models. We collect a large dataset of human annotated text perturbations and train a neural perturbation model, which we show outperforms heuristic alternatives. We find that (i) language models (LMs) pre-trained on demographically perturbed corpora are typically more fair, and (ii) LMs finetuned on perturbed GLUE datasets exhibit less demographic bias on downstream tasks, and (iii) fairness improvements do not come at the expense of performance on downstream tasks. Lastly, we discuss outstanding questions about how best to evaluate the (un)fairness of large language models. We hope that this exploration of neural demographic perturbation will help drive more improvement towards fairer NLP.


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Recipes for Building an Open-Domain Chatbot
Stephen Roller | Emily Dinan | Naman Goyal | Da Ju | Mary Williamson | Yinhan Liu | Jing Xu | Myle Ott | Eric Michael Smith | Y-Lan Boureau | Jason Weston
Proceedings of the 16th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Main Volume

Building open-domain chatbots is a challenging area for machine learning research. While prior work has shown that scaling neural models in the number of parameters and the size of the data they are trained on gives improved results, we highlight other ingredients. Good conversation requires blended skills: providing engaging talking points, and displaying knowledge, empathy and personality appropriately, while maintaining a consistent persona. We show that large scale models can learn these skills when given appropriate training data and choice of generation strategy. We build variants of these recipes with 90M, 2.7B and 9.4B parameter models, and make our models and code publicly available. Human evaluations show our best models outperform existing approaches in multi-turn dialogue on engagingness and humanness measurements. We then discuss the limitations of this work by analyzing failure cases of our models.

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Multi-Modal Open-Domain Dialogue
Kurt Shuster | Eric Michael Smith | Da Ju | Jason Weston
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Recent work in open-domain conversational agents has demonstrated that significant improvements in humanness and user preference can be achieved via massive scaling in both pre-training data and model size (Adiwardana et al., 2020; Roller et al., 2020). However, if we want to build agents with human-like abilities, we must expand beyond handling just text. A particularly important topic is the ability to see images and communicate about what is perceived. With the goal of getting humans to engage in multi-modal dialogue, we investigate combining components from state-of-the-art open-domain dialogue agents with those from state-of-the-art vision models. We study incorporating different image fusion schemes and domain-adaptive pre-training and fine-tuning strategies, and show that our best resulting model outperforms strong existing models in multi-modal dialogue while simultaneously performing as well as its predecessor (text-only) BlenderBot (Roller et al., 2020) in text-based conversation. We additionally investigate and incorporate safety components in our final model, and show that such efforts do not diminish model performance with respect to human preference.


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Can You Put it All Together: Evaluating Conversational Agents’ Ability to Blend Skills
Eric Michael Smith | Mary Williamson | Kurt Shuster | Jason Weston | Y-Lan Boureau
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Being engaging, knowledgeable, and empathetic are all desirable general qualities in a conversational agent. Previous work has introduced tasks and datasets that aim to help agents to learn those qualities in isolation and gauge how well they can express them. But rather than being specialized in one single quality, a good open-domain conversational agent should be able to seamlessly blend them all into one cohesive conversational flow. In this work, we investigate several ways to combine models trained towards isolated capabilities, ranging from simple model aggregation schemes that require minimal additional training, to various forms of multi-task training that encompass several skills at all training stages. We further propose a new dataset, BlendedSkillTalk, to analyze how these capabilities would mesh together in a natural conversation, and compare the performance of different architectures and training schemes. Our experiments show that multi-tasking over several tasks that focus on particular capabilities results in better blended conversation performance compared to models trained on a single skill, and that both unified or two-stage approaches perform well if they are constructed to avoid unwanted bias in skill selection or are fine-tuned on our new task.


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Towards Empathetic Open-domain Conversation Models: A New Benchmark and Dataset
Hannah Rashkin | Eric Michael Smith | Margaret Li | Y-Lan Boureau
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

One challenge for dialogue agents is recognizing feelings in the conversation partner and replying accordingly, a key communicative skill. While it is straightforward for humans to recognize and acknowledge others’ feelings in a conversation, this is a significant challenge for AI systems due to the paucity of suitable publicly-available datasets for training and evaluation. This work proposes a new benchmark for empathetic dialogue generation and EmpatheticDialogues, a novel dataset of 25k conversations grounded in emotional situations. Our experiments indicate that dialogue models that use our dataset are perceived to be more empathetic by human evaluators, compared to models merely trained on large-scale Internet conversation data. We also present empirical comparisons of dialogue model adaptations for empathetic responding, leveraging existing models or datasets without requiring lengthy re-training of the full model.