Let's Chat! Can Virtual Agents Learn How to Have a Conversation?
Intelligent virtual agents frequently engage the user in conversation. The underlying technology - often referred to as spoken dialogue systems - have experienced a revolution over the past decade, moving from being completely handcrafted to using data-driven machine learning methods. In this talk, I will review current developments including my work on using reinforcement learning and deep learning models, and evaluate these methods in the light of recent results from two large-scale studies: First, I will summarise results from the End-to-End NLG Challenge for presenting information in closed-domain, task-based dialogue systems. Second, I will report our experience from experimenting with these models for generating responses in open-domain social dialogue as part of the Amazon Alexa Prize challenge.