Pre-trained language models have recently contributed to significant advances in NLP tasks. Recently, multi-modal versions of BERT have been developed, using heavy pre-training relying on vast corpora of aligned textual and image data, primarily applied to classification tasks such as VQA. In this paper, we are interested in evaluating the visual capabilities of BERT out-of-the-box, by avoiding pre-training made on supplementary data. We choose to study Visual Question Generation, a task of great interest for grounded dialog, that enables to study the impact of each modality (as input can be visual and/or textual). Moreover, the generation aspect of the task requires an adaptation since BERT is primarily designed as an encoder. We introduce BERT-gen, a BERT-based architecture for text generation, able to leverage on either mono- or multi- modal representations. The results reported under different configurations indicate an innate capacity for BERT-gen to adapt to multi-modal data and text generation, even with few data available, avoiding expensive pre-training. The proposed model obtains substantial improvements over the state-of-the-art on two established VQG datasets.
Language grounding is an active field aiming at enriching textual representations with visual information. Generally, textual and visual elements are embedded in the same representation space, which implicitly assumes a one-to-one correspondence between modalities. This hypothesis does not hold when representing words, and becomes problematic when used to learn sentence representations — the focus of this paper — as a visual scene can be described by a wide variety of sentences. To overcome this limitation, we propose to transfer visual information to textual representations by learning an intermediate representation space: the grounded space. We further propose two new complementary objectives ensuring that (1) sentences associated with the same visual content are close in the grounded space and (2) similarities between related elements are preserved across modalities. We show that this model outperforms the previous state-of-the-art on classification and semantic relatedness tasks.