Kurt Shuster


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Internet-Augmented Dialogue Generation
Mojtaba Komeili | Kurt Shuster | Jason Weston
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

The largest store of continually updating knowledge on our planet can be accessed via internet search. In this work we study giving access to this information to conversational agents. Large language models, even though they store an impressive amount of knowledge within their weights, are known to hallucinate facts when generating dialogue (Shuster et al., 2021); moreover, those facts are frozen in time at the point of model training. In contrast, we propose an approach that learns to generate an internet search query based on the context, and then conditions on the search results to finally generate a response, a method that can employ up-to-the-minute relevant information. We train and evaluate such models on a newly collected dataset of human-human conversations whereby one of the speakers is given access to internet search during knowledgedriven discussions in order to ground their responses. We find that search-query based access of the internet in conversation provides superior performance compared to existing approaches that either use no augmentation or FAISS-based retrieval (Lewis et al., 2020b).


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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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Dialogue in the Wild: Learning from a Deployed Role-Playing Game with Humans and Bots
Kurt Shuster | Jack Urbanek | Emily Dinan | Arthur Szlam | Jason Weston
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL-IJCNLP 2021

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Retrieval Augmentation Reduces Hallucination in Conversation
Kurt Shuster | Spencer Poff | Moya Chen | Douwe Kiela | Jason Weston
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2021

Despite showing increasingly human-like conversational abilities, state-of-the-art dialogue models often suffer from factual incorrectness and hallucination of knowledge (Roller et al., 2020). In this work we explore the use of neural-retrieval-in-the-loop architectures - recently shown to be effective in open-domain QA (Lewis et al., 2020b; Izacard and Grave, 2020) - for knowledge-grounded dialogue, a task that is arguably more challenging as it requires querying based on complex multi-turn dialogue context and generating conversationally coherent responses. We study various types of architectures with multiple components - retrievers, rankers, and encoder-decoders - with the goal of maximizing knowledgeability while retaining conversational ability. We demonstrate that our best models obtain state-of-the-art performance on two knowledge-grounded conversational tasks. The models exhibit open-domain conversational capabilities, generalize effectively to scenarios not within the training data, and, as verified by human evaluations, substantially reduce the well-known problem of knowledge hallucination in state-of-the-art chatbots.


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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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Image-Chat: Engaging Grounded Conversations
Kurt Shuster | Samuel Humeau | Antoine Bordes | Jason Weston
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

To achieve the long-term goal of machines being able to engage humans in conversation, our models should captivate the interest of their speaking partners. Communication grounded in images, whereby a dialogue is conducted based on a given photo, is a setup naturally appealing to humans (Hu et al., 2014). In this work we study large-scale architectures and datasets for this goal. We test a set of neural architectures using state-of-the-art image and text representations, considering various ways to fuse the components. To test such models, we collect a dataset of grounded human-human conversations, where speakers are asked to play roles given a provided emotional mood or style, as the use of such traits is also a key factor in engagingness (Guo et al., 2019). Our dataset, Image-Chat, consists of 202k dialogues over 202k images using 215 possible style traits. Automatic metrics and human evaluations of engagingness show the efficacy of our approach; in particular, we obtain state-of-the-art performance on the existing IGC task, and our best performing model is almost on par with humans on the Image-Chat test set (preferred 47.7% of the time).

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The Dialogue Dodecathlon: Open-Domain Knowledge and Image Grounded Conversational Agents
Kurt Shuster | Da Ju | Stephen Roller | Emily Dinan | Y-Lan Boureau | Jason Weston
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

We introduce dodecaDialogue: a set of 12 tasks that measures if a conversational agent can communicate engagingly with personality and empathy, ask questions, answer questions by utilizing knowledge resources, discuss topics and situations, and perceive and converse about images. By multi-tasking on such a broad large-scale set of data, we hope to both move towards and measure progress in producing a single unified agent that can perceive, reason and converse with humans in an open-domain setting. We show that such multi-tasking improves over a BERT pre-trained baseline, largely due to multi-tasking with very large dialogue datasets in a similar domain, and that the multi-tasking in general provides gains to both text and image-based tasks using several metrics in both the fine-tune and task transfer settings. We obtain state-of-the-art results on many of the tasks, providing a strong baseline for this challenge.