カンファレンス (国際) Conversation Initiation by Diverse News Contents Introduction

Satoshi Akasaki (UTokyo) and Nobuhiro Kaji

2019 Annual Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics (NAACL 2019)


In our everyday chit-chat, there is a conversation initiator, who proactively casts an initial utterance to start chatting. However, most existing conversation systems cannot play this role. Previous studies on conversation systems assume that the user always initiates conversation, and have placed emphasis on how to respond to the given user’s utterance. As a result, existing conversation systems become passive. Namely they continue waiting until being spoken to by the users. In this paper, we consider the system as a conversation initiator and propose a novel task of generating the initial utterance in open-domain non-task-oriented conversation. Here, in order not to make users bored, it is necessary to generate diverse utterances to initiate conversation without relying on boilerplate utterances like greetings. To this end, we propose to generate initial utterance by summarizing and chatting about news articles, which provide fresh and various contents everyday. To address the lack of the training data for this task, we constructed a novel largescale dataset through crowd-sourcing. We also analyzed the dataset in detail to examine how humans initiate conversations (the dataset will be released to facilitate future research activities). We present several approaches to conversation initiation including information retrieval based and generation based models. Experimental results showed that the proposed models trained on our dataset performed reasonably well and outperformed baselines that utilize automatically collected training data in both automatic and manual evaluation.

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