Mary Williamson


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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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VoxPopuli: A Large-Scale Multilingual Speech Corpus for Representation Learning, Semi-Supervised Learning and Interpretation
Changhan Wang | Morgane Riviere | Ann Lee | Anne Wu | Chaitanya Talnikar | Daniel Haziza | Mary Williamson | Juan Pino | Emmanuel Dupoux
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)

We introduce VoxPopuli, a large-scale multilingual corpus providing 400K hours of unlabeled speech data in 23 languages. It is the largest open data to date for unsupervised representation learning as well as semi-supervised learning. VoxPopuli also contains 1.8K hours of transcribed speeches in 15 languages and their aligned oral interpretations into 15 target languages totaling 17.3K hours. We provide speech recognition (ASR) baselines and validate the versatility of VoxPopuli unlabeled data in semi-supervised ASR and speech-to-text translation under challenging out-of-domain settings. The corpus is available at

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I like fish, especially dolphins: Addressing Contradictions in Dialogue Modeling
Yixin Nie | Mary Williamson | Mohit Bansal | Douwe Kiela | Jason Weston
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)

To quantify how well natural language understanding models can capture consistency in a general conversation, we introduce the DialoguE COntradiction DEtection task (DECODE) and a new conversational dataset containing both human-human and human-bot contradictory dialogues. We show that: (i) our newly collected dataset is notably more effective at providing supervision for the dialogue contradiction detection task than existing NLI data including those aimed to cover the dialogue domain; (ii) Transformer models that explicitly hinge on utterance structures for dialogue contradiction detection are more robust and generalize well on both analysis and out-of-distribution dialogues than standard (unstructured) Transformers. We also show that our best contradiction detection model correlates well with human judgments and further provide evidence for its usage in both automatically evaluating and improving the consistency of state-of-the-art generative 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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Facebook AI’s WMT20 News Translation Task Submission
Peng-Jen Chen | Ann Lee | Changhan Wang | Naman Goyal | Angela Fan | Mary Williamson | Jiatao Gu
Proceedings of the Fifth Conference on Machine Translation

This paper describes Facebook AI’s submission to WMT20 shared news translation task. We focus on the low resource setting and participate in two language pairs, Tamil <-> English and Inuktitut <-> English, where there are limited out-of-domain bitext and monolingual data. We approach the low resource problem using two main strategies, leveraging all available data and adapting the system to the target news domain. We explore techniques that leverage bitext and monolingual data from all languages, such as self-supervised model pretraining, multilingual models, data augmentation, and reranking. To better adapt the translation system to the test domain, we explore dataset tagging and fine-tuning on in-domain data. We observe that different techniques provide varied improvements based on the available data of the language pair. Based on the finding, we integrate these techniques into one training pipeline. For En->Ta, we explore an unconstrained setup with additional Tamil bitext and monolingual data and show that further improvement can be obtained. On the test set, our best submitted systems achieve 21.5 and 13.7 BLEU for Ta->En and En->Ta respectively, and 27.9 and 13.0 for Iu->En and En->Iu respectively.