The Art of Deep Connection - Towards Natural and Pragmatic Conversational Agent Interactions

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Virginia Tech

As research in Artificial Intelligence (AI) advances, it is crucial to focus on having seamless communication between humans and machines in order to effectively accomplish tasks. Smooth human-machine communication requires the machine to be sensible and human-like while interacting with humans, while simultaneously being capable of extracting the maximum information it needs to accomplish the desired task. Since a lot of the tasks required to be solved by machines today involve the understanding of images, training machines to have human-like and effective image-grounded conversations with humans is one important step towards achieving this goal. Although we now have agents that can answer questions asked for images, they are prone to failure from confusing input, and cannot ask clarification questions, in turn, to extract the desired information from humans. Hence, as a first step, we direct our efforts towards making Visual Question Answering agents human-like by making them resilient to confusing inputs that otherwise do not confuse humans. Not only is it crucial for a machine to answer questions reasonably, it should also know how to ask questions sequentially to extract the desired information it needs from a human. Hence, we introduce a novel game called the Visual 20 Questions Game, where a machine tries to figure out a secret image a human has picked by having a natural language conversation with the human. Using deep learning techniques like recurrent neural networks and sequence-to-sequence learning, we demonstrate scalable and reasonable performances on both the tasks.

Computer Vision, Natural Language Processing, Conversational Agents, Chatbots, Deep learning (Machine learning), Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence