Arthur Szlam


Reducing Conversational Agents’ Overconfidence Through Linguistic Calibration
Sabrina J. Mielke | Arthur Szlam | Emily Dinan | Y-Lan Boureau
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 10

While improving neural dialogue agents’ factual accuracy is the object of much research, another important aspect of communication, less studied in the setting of neural dialogue, is transparency about ignorance. In this work, we analyze to what extent state-of-the-art chit-chat models are linguistically calibrated in the sense that their verbalized expression of doubt (or confidence) matches the likelihood that the model’s responses are factually incorrect (or correct). We find that these models are poorly calibrated, yet we show that likelihood of correctness can accurately be predicted. By incorporating such metacognitive features into the training of a controllable generation model, we obtain a dialogue agent with greatly improved linguistic calibration.

Beyond Goldfish Memory: Long-Term Open-Domain Conversation
Jing Xu | Arthur Szlam | Jason Weston
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Despite recent improvements in open-domain dialogue models, state of the art models are trained and evaluated on short conversations with little context. In contrast, the long-term conversation setting has hardly been studied. In this work we collect and release a human-human dataset consisting of multiple chat sessions whereby the speaking partners learn about each other’s interests and discuss the things they have learnt from past sessions. We show how existing models trained on existing datasets perform poorly in this long-term conversation setting in both automatic and human evaluations, and we study long-context models that can perform much better. In particular, we find retrieval-augmented methods and methods with an ability to summarize and recall previous conversations outperform the standard encoder-decoder architectures currently considered state of the art.

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.

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.

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.


How to Motivate Your Dragon: Teaching Goal-Driven Agents to Speak and Act in Fantasy Worlds
Prithviraj Ammanabrolu | Jack Urbanek | Margaret Li | Arthur Szlam | Tim Rocktäschel | Jason Weston
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

We seek to create agents that both act and communicate with other agents in pursuit of a goal. Towards this end, we extend LIGHT (Urbanek et al. 2019)—a large-scale crowd-sourced fantasy text-game—with a dataset of quests. These contain natural language motivations paired with in-game goals and human demonstrations; completing a quest might require dialogue or actions (or both). We introduce a reinforcement learning system that (1) incorporates large-scale language modeling-based and commonsense reasoning-based pre-training to imbue the agent with relevant priors; and (2) leverages a factorized action space of action commands and dialogue, balancing between the two. We conduct zero-shot evaluations using held-out human expert demonstrations, showing that our agents are able to act consistently and talk naturally with respect to their motivations.

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


CraftAssist Instruction Parsing: Semantic Parsing for a Voxel-World Assistant
Kavya Srinet | Yacine Jernite | Jonathan Gray | Arthur Szlam
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

We propose a semantic parsing dataset focused on instruction-driven communication with an agent in the game Minecraft. The dataset consists of 7K human utterances and their corresponding parses. Given proper world state, the parses can be interpreted and executed in game. We report the performance of baseline models, and analyze their successes and failures.


Learning to Speak and Act in a Fantasy Text Adventure Game
Jack Urbanek | Angela Fan | Siddharth Karamcheti | Saachi Jain | Samuel Humeau | Emily Dinan | Tim Rocktäschel | Douwe Kiela | Arthur Szlam | Jason Weston
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

We introduce a large-scale crowdsourced text adventure game as a research platform for studying grounded dialogue. In it, agents can perceive, emote, and act whilst conducting dialogue with other agents. Models and humans can both act as characters within the game. We describe the results of training state-of-the-art generative and retrieval models in this setting. We show that in addition to using past dialogue, these models are able to effectively use the state of the underlying world to condition their predictions. In particular, we show that grounding on the details of the local environment, including location descriptions, and the objects (and their affordances) and characters (and their previous actions) present within it allows better predictions of agent behavior and dialogue. We analyze the ingredients necessary for successful grounding in this setting, and how each of these factors relate to agents that can talk and act successfully.

Dialogue Natural Language Inference
Sean Welleck | Jason Weston | Arthur Szlam | Kyunghyun Cho
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Consistency is a long standing issue faced by dialogue models. In this paper, we frame the consistency of dialogue agents as natural language inference (NLI) and create a new natural language inference dataset called Dialogue NLI. We propose a method which demonstrates that a model trained on Dialogue NLI can be used to improve the consistency of a dialogue model, and evaluate the method with human evaluation and with automatic metrics on a suite of evaluation sets designed to measure a dialogue model’s consistency.


Personalizing Dialogue Agents: I have a dog, do you have pets too?
Saizheng Zhang | Emily Dinan | Jack Urbanek | Arthur Szlam | Douwe Kiela | Jason Weston
Proceedings of the 56th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Chit-chat models are known to have several problems: they lack specificity, do not display a consistent personality and are often not very captivating. In this work we present the task of making chit-chat more engaging by conditioning on profile information. We collect data and train models to (i)condition on their given profile information; and (ii) information about the person they are talking to, resulting in improved dialogues, as measured by next utterance prediction. Since (ii) is initially unknown our model is trained to engage its partner with personal topics, and we show the resulting dialogue can be used to predict profile information about the interlocutors.