Facebook releases open source chatbot code - Mobile World Live

Facebook releases open source chatbot code

15 JUN 2017

Facebook’s Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR) unit launched open source code and research focused on chatbots with the ability to negotiate.

The tech company said in a blog post negotiations require complex communication and reasoning skills, attributes not usually found in computers, and work on chatbots so far resulted in systems which can hold short conversations and perform simple tasks such as booking a restaurant.

Facebook said building machines capable of holding meaningful conversations with people is challenging because it requires the bot to combine its understanding of the conversation with its knowledge of the world, and then produce a new sentence which helps it achieve its goals.

“Researchers have shown that it’s possible for dialogue agents with differing goals to engage in start-to-finish negotiations with other bots or people while arriving at common decisions or outcomes,” it said.

Games influence
FAIR researchers’ “key technical innovation” in building such long-term planning agents is an idea called dialogue rollouts, where an agent simulates a future conversation by rolling out a dialogue model to the end of the conversation, so “an utterance with the maximum expected future reward can be chosen.”

The blog explained similar ideas have been used for planning in game environments, but have never been applied to language because the number of possible actions is much higher.

To evaluate the negotiation agents, FAIR tested them online in conversations with people and found most people did not realise they were talking to a bot rather than a person.

Facebook said this “breakthrough” represents an important step for the research community and bot developers toward creating chatbots capable of reasoning, conversing, and negotiating, all key steps in building a personalised digital assistant.

In April 2016, Facebook became the latest high-profile convert to the bots cause, announcing compatibility for its Messenger platform. In September, David Marcus, the company’s VP of messaging products, said an earlier launch of Facebook’s bot platform was “over hyped very quickly”.

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Saleha Riaz

Saleha joined Mobile World Live in October 2014 as a reporter and works across all e-newsletters - creating content, writing blogs and reports as well as conducting feature interviews...More

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