New approach for communication with voice assistant

New approach for communication with voice assistant

It’s a situation familiar to anyone who’s ever communicated with a voice assistant on a smart device. You pose a request: “Hey Voice Assistant, tell me a story about Georgia Tech.” More often than not, you get a related response – “Georgia Tech is located in Atlanta, Georgia. Would you like me to provide you with directions?” – but one with slightly unnatural language and only limited information.

Despite the enormous strides made in artificial intelligence to develop systems that can answer simple questions and requests, the kinds of natural conversational language humans have with each other when giving more complex directions or telling stories has thus far been out of reach.

Research from Georgia Tech’s School of Interactive Computing, however, provides a novel approach that improves the combination of automated story generation with natural language. The development is an important step in providing AI assistants the capability to more naturally converse with humans.

“Let’s think of a future version of Siri or Alexa, where you have a complex task that’s not just ‘Look this thing up on the internet,’ or ‘Tell me what the weather is outside,’” said Mark Riedl, an associate professor at Georgia Tech and the faculty lead on the research. “Maybe you want to plan your day or a birthday party. Think of the response like a little story, a narrative that conveys the requested information.

“It’s a missing capability in AI – they just don’t understand us or communicate with us in the same ways that we understand each other.”

Riedl and his team approached the challenge by viewing the exchange of information as stories – a series of events, one after the other, that leads to some conclusion. Past research on the topic identified patterns in language to identify how stories are constructed – namely that a verb generally changes the action and conveys a new event in a story.

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Source: “Changing the conversation: Georgia Tech researchers provide new approach to automated story generation”, David Mitchell, Georgia Institute of Technology