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Building a Conversational Agent Overnight with Dialogue Self-Play

by   Pararth Shah, et al.

We propose Machines Talking To Machines (M2M), a framework combining automation and crowdsourcing to rapidly bootstrap end-to-end dialogue agents for goal-oriented dialogues in arbitrary domains. M2M scales to new tasks with just a task schema and an API client from the dialogue system developer, but it is also customizable to cater to task-specific interactions. Compared to the Wizard-of-Oz approach for data collection, M2M achieves greater diversity and coverage of salient dialogue flows while maintaining the naturalness of individual utterances. In the first phase, a simulated user bot and a domain-agnostic system bot converse to exhaustively generate dialogue "outlines", i.e. sequences of template utterances and their semantic parses. In the second phase, crowd workers provide contextual rewrites of the dialogues to make the utterances more natural while preserving their meaning. The entire process can finish within a few hours. We propose a new corpus of 3,000 dialogues spanning 2 domains collected with M2M, and present comparisons with popular dialogue datasets on the quality and diversity of the surface forms and dialogue flows.


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