Kurt Shuster


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The CRINGE Loss: Learning what language not to model
Leonard Adolphs | Tianyu Gao | Jing Xu | Kurt Shuster | Sainbayar Sukhbaatar | Jason Weston
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Standard language model training employs gold human documents or human-human interaction data, and treats all training data as positive examples. Growing evidence shows that even with very large amounts of positive training data, issues remain that can be alleviated with relatively small amounts of negative data – examples of what the model should not do. In this work, we propose a novel procedure to train with such data called the “CRINGE” loss (ContRastive Iterative Negative GEneration). We show the effectiveness of this approach across three different experiments on the tasks of safe generation, contradiction avoidance, and open-domain dialogue. Our models outperform multiple strong baselines and are conceptually simple, easy to train and implement.


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Director: Generator-Classifiers For Supervised Language Modeling
Kushal Arora | Kurt Shuster | Sainbayar Sukhbaatar | Jason Weston
Proceedings of the 2nd Conference of the Asia-Pacific Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 12th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Current language models achieve low perplexity but their resulting generations still suffer from toxic responses, repetitiveness, and contradictions. The standard language modeling setup fails to address these issues. In this paper, we introduce a new architecture, Director, that consists of a unified generator-classifier with both a language modeling and a classification head for each output token. Training is conducted jointly using both standard language modeling data, and data labeled with desirable and undesirable sequences. Experiments in several settings show that the model has competitive training and decoding speed compared to standard language models while yielding superior results, avoiding undesirable behaviors while maintaining generation quality. It also outperforms existing model guiding approaches in terms of both accuracy and efficiency. Our code is made publicly available.

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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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Am I Me or You? State-of-the-Art Dialogue Models Cannot Maintain an Identity
Kurt Shuster | Jack Urbanek | Arthur Szlam | Jason Weston
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: NAACL 2022

State-of-the-art dialogue models still often stumble with regards to factual accuracy and self-contradiction. Anecdotally, they have been observed to fail to maintain character identity throughout discourse; and more specifically, may take on the role of their interlocutor. In this work we formalize and quantify this deficiency, and show experimentally through human evaluations that this is indeed a problem. In contrast, we show that discriminative models trained specifically to recognize who is speaking can perform well; and further, these can be used as automated metrics. Finally, we evaluate a wide variety of mitigation methods, including changes to model architecture, training protocol, and decoding strategy. Our best models reduce mistaken identity issues by nearly 65% according to human annotators, while simultaneously improving engagingness. Despite these results, we find that maintaining character identity still remains a challenging problem.

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Language Models that Seek for Knowledge: Modular Search & Generation for Dialogue and Prompt Completion
Kurt Shuster | Mojtaba Komeili | Leonard Adolphs | Stephen Roller | Arthur Szlam | Jason Weston
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

Language models (LMs) have recently been shown to generate more factual responses by employing modularity (Zhou et al., 2022) in combination with retrieval (Adolphs et al., 2021). We extend the recent approach of Adolphs et al. (2021) to include internet search as a module. Our SeeKeR (Search engine->Knowledge->Response) method thus applies a single LM to three modular tasks in succession: search, generating knowledge, and generating a final response. We show that, when using SeeKeR as a dialogue model, it outperforms the state-of-the-art model BlenderBot 2 (Chen et al., 2021) on open-domain knowledge-grounded conversations for the same number of parameters, in terms of consistency, knowledge and per-turn engagingness. SeeKeR applied to topical prompt completions as a standard language model outperforms GPT2 (Radford et al., 2019) and GPT3 (Brown et al., 2020) in terms of factuality and topicality, despite GPT3 being a vastly larger model. Our code and models are made publicly available.

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Reason first, then respond: Modular Generation for Knowledge-infused Dialogue
Leonard Adolphs | Kurt Shuster | Jack Urbanek | Arthur Szlam | Jason Weston
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

Large language models can produce fluent dialogue but often hallucinate factual inaccuracies. While retrieval-augmented models help alleviate this issue, they still face a difficult challenge of both reasoning to provide correct knowledge and generating conversation simultaneously. In this work, we propose a modular model, Knowledge to Response (K2R), for incorporating knowledge into conversational agents, which breaks down this problem into two easier steps. K2R first generates a knowledge sequence, given a dialogue context, as an intermediate step. After this “reasoning step”, the model then attends to its own generated knowledge sequence, as well as the dialogue context, to produce a final response. In detailed experiments, we find that such a model hallucinates less in knowledge-grounded dialogue tasks, and has advantages in terms of interpretability and modularity. In particular, it can be used to fuse QA and dialogue systems together to enable dialogue agents to give knowledgeable answers, or QA models to give conversational responses in a zero-shot setting.


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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.