Jiaxin Wen


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AugESC: Dialogue Augmentation with Large Language Models for Emotional Support Conversation
Chujie Zheng | Sahand Sabour | Jiaxin Wen | Zheng Zhang | Minlie Huang
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Crowdsourced dialogue corpora are usually limited in scale and topic coverage due to the expensive cost of data curation. This would hinder the generalization of downstream dialogue models to open-domain topics. In this work, we leverage large language models for dialogue augmentation in the task of emotional support conversation (ESC). By treating dialogue augmentation as a dialogue completion task, we prompt a fine-tuned language model to complete full dialogues from available dialogue posts of various topics, which are then postprocessed based on heuristics. Applying this approach, we construct AugESC, an augmented dataset for the ESC task, which largely extends the scale and topic coverage of the crowdsourced ESConv corpus. Through comprehensive human evaluation, we demonstrate that our approach is superior to strong baselines of dialogue augmentation and that AugESC has comparable dialogue quality to the crowdsourced corpus. We also conduct human interactive evaluation and prove that post-training on AugESC improves downstream dialogue models’ generalization ability to open-domain topics. These results suggest the utility of AugESC and highlight the potential of large language models in improving data-scarce dialogue generation tasks.

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Unveiling the Implicit Toxicity in Large Language Models
Jiaxin Wen | Pei Ke | Hao Sun | Zhexin Zhang | Chengfei Li | Jinfeng Bai | Minlie Huang
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

The open-endedness of large language models (LLMs) combined with their impressive capabilities may lead to new safety issues when being exploited for malicious use. While recent studies primarily focus on probing toxic outputs that can be easily detected with existing toxicity classifiers, we show that LLMs can generate diverse implicit toxic outputs that are exceptionally difficult to detect via simply zero-shot prompting. Moreover, we propose a reinforcement learning (RL) based attacking method to further induce the implicit toxicity in LLMs. Specifically, we optimize the language model with a reward that prefers implicit toxic outputs to explicit toxic and non-toxic ones. Experiments on five widely-adopted toxicity classifiers demonstrate that the attack success rate can be significantly improved through RL fine-tuning. For instance, the RL-finetuned LLaMA-13B model achieves an attack success rate of 90.04% on BAD and 62.85% on Davinci003. Our findings suggest that LLMs pose a significant threat in generating undetectable implicit toxic outputs. We further show that fine-tuning toxicity classifiers on the annotated examples from our attacking method can effectively enhance their ability to detect LLM-generated implicit toxic language.

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Re3Dial: Retrieve, Reorganize and Rescale Conversations for Long-Turn Open-Domain Dialogue Pre-training
Jiaxin Wen | Hao Zhou | Jian Guan | Jie Zhou | Minlie Huang
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Pre-training on large-scale open-domain dialogue data can substantially improve the performance of dialogue models. However, the pre-trained dialogue model’s ability to utilize long-range context is limited due to the scarcity of long-turn dialogue sessions. Most dialogues in existing pre-training corpora contain fewer than three turns of dialogue. To alleviate this issue, we propose the Retrieve, Reorganize and Rescale framework (Re3Dial), which can automatically construct billion-scale long-turn dialogues by reorganizing existing short-turn ones. Given a short-turn session, Re3Dial first employs a session retriever to retrieve coherent consecutive sessions. To this end, we train the retriever to capture semantic and discourse relations within multi-turn dialogues through contrastive training. Next, Re3Dial samples a session from retrieved results following a diversity sampling strategy, which is designed to penalize repetitive or generic sessions. A longer session is then derived by concatenating the original session and the sampled session. By repeating the above process, Re3Dial can yield a coherent long-turn dialogue. Extensive experiments on multiple multi-turn dialogue benchmarks demonstrate that Re3Dial significantly improves the dialogue model’s ability to utilize long-range context and thus generate more sensible and informative responses. Finally, we build a toolkit for efficiently rescaling conversations with Re3Dial, which enables us to construct a corpus containing 1B Chinese dialogue sessions with 11.3 turns on average (5X longer than the original corpus). We will release our retriever model, toolkit, and data for public use.

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ETHICIST: Targeted Training Data Extraction Through Loss Smoothed Soft Prompting and Calibrated Confidence Estimation
Zhexin Zhang | Jiaxin Wen | Minlie Huang
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Large pre-trained language models achieve impressive results across many tasks. However, recent works point out that pre-trained language models may memorize a considerable fraction of their training data, leading to the privacy risk of information leakage. In this paper, we propose a method named Ethicist for targeted training data extraction through loss smoothed soft prompting and calibrated confidence estimation, investigating how to recover the suffix in the training data when given a prefix. To elicit memorization in the attacked model, we tune soft prompt embeddings while keeping the model fixed. We further propose a smoothing loss that smooths the loss distribution of the suffix tokens to make it easier to sample the correct suffix. In order to select the most probable suffix from a collection of sampled suffixes and estimate the prediction confidence, we propose a calibrated confidence estimation method, which normalizes the confidence of the generated suffixes with a local estimation. We show that Ethicist significantly improves the extraction performance on a recently proposed public benchmark. We also investigate several factors influencing the data extraction performance, including decoding strategy, model scale, prefix length, and suffix length. Our code is availabel at https://github.com/thu-coai/Targeted-Data-Extraction.


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AutoCAD: Automatically Generate Counterfactuals for Mitigating Shortcut Learning
Jiaxin Wen | Yeshuang Zhu | Jinchao Zhang | Jie Zhou | Minlie Huang
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

Recent studies have shown the impressive efficacy of counterfactually augmented data (CAD) for reducing NLU models’ reliance on spurious features and improving their generalizability. However, current methods still heavily rely on human efforts or task-specific designs to generate counterfactuals, thereby impeding CAD’s applicability to a broad range of NLU tasks. In this paper, we present AutoCAD, a fully automatic and task-agnostic CAD generation framework. AutoCAD first leverages a classifier to unsupervisedly identify rationales as spans to be intervened, which disentangles spurious and causal features. Then, AutoCAD performs controllable generation enhanced by unlikelihood training to produce diverse counterfactuals. Extensive evaluations on multiple out-of-domain and challenge benchmarks demonstrate that AutoCAD consistently and significantly boosts the out-of-distribution performance of powerful pre-trained models across different NLU tasks, which is comparable or even better than previous state-of-the-art human-in-the-loop or task-specific CAD methods.

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Persona-Guided Planning for Controlling the Protagonist’s Persona in Story Generation
Zhexin Zhang | Jiaxin Wen | Jian Guan | Minlie Huang
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Endowing the protagonist with a specific personality is essential for writing an engaging story. In this paper, we aim to control the protagonist’s persona in story generation, i.e., generating a story from a leading context and a persona description, where the protagonist should exhibit the specified personality through a coherent event sequence. Considering that personas are usually embodied implicitly and sparsely in stories, we propose a planning-based generation model named ConPer to explicitly model the relationship between personas and events. ConPer first plans events of the protagonist’s behavior which are motivated by the specified persona through predicting one target sentence, then plans the plot as a sequence of keywords with the guidance of the predicted persona-related events and commonsense knowledge, and finally generates the whole story. Both automatic and manual evaluation results demonstrate that ConPer outperforms state-of-the-art baselines for generating more coherent and persona-controllable stories. Our code is available at https://github.com/thu-coai/ConPer.


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Robustness Testing of Language Understanding in Task-Oriented Dialog
Jiexi Liu | Ryuichi Takanobu | Jiaxin Wen | Dazhen Wan | Hongguang Li | Weiran Nie | Cheng Li | Wei Peng | Minlie Huang
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Most language understanding models in task-oriented dialog systems are trained on a small amount of annotated training data, and evaluated in a small set from the same distribution. However, these models can lead to system failure or undesirable output when being exposed to natural language perturbation or variation in practice. In this paper, we conduct comprehensive evaluation and analysis with respect to the robustness of natural language understanding models, and introduce three important aspects related to language understanding in real-world dialog systems, namely, language variety, speech characteristics, and noise perturbation. We propose a model-agnostic toolkit LAUG to approximate natural language perturbations for testing the robustness issues in task-oriented dialog. Four data augmentation approaches covering the three aspects are assembled in LAUG, which reveals critical robustness issues in state-of-the-art models. The augmented dataset through LAUG can be used to facilitate future research on the robustness testing of language understanding in task-oriented dialog.