Monday, 16 April, 2018 - 13:00

Smart Enough to Talk with Us? Foundations and Challenges for Dialogue Capable AI Systems

Recent progress in computational linguistics and spoken language systems has been truly astonishing. Computer systems of various sorts now communicate in speech and text, and capabilities for search and information retrieval underlie tools in daily use around the world. Despite these incredible advances, the challenge of “human level dialogue capacities” remains. Systems have yet to exhibit fluent dialogue capabilities outside of narrowly defined domains and tasks. This talk will address the gap between research and the capabilities of consumer-facing systems by providing a retrospective review of computational models of dialogue and collaboration, discussing ways to move from theory to system design, and describing some dialogue principles for design and ways dialogue models might be used to improve the conversational abilities of personal assistants, chatbots, and more. It will end with some ethical and scientific challenges dialogue the gap raises.


Barbara Grosz is Higgins Professor of Natural Sciences in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University and a member of the External Faculty of Santa Fe Institute. She has made many contributions to the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) through her pioneering research in natural language processing and in theories of multi-agent collaboration and their application to human-computer interaction. She was founding dean of science and then dean of Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and she is known for her role in the establishment and leadership of interdisciplinary institutions and for her contributions to the advancement of women in science. In 2017, she received an Everett Mendelsohn Excellence in Mentoring Award from Harvard's Graduate Student Council. Professor Grosz currently chairs the Standing Committee for Stanford's One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence and serves on the boards of several scientific, scholarly and academic institutions. A member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Philosophical Society, she is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, the Association for Computing Machinery, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a corresponding fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. She received the 2009 ACM/AAAI Allen Newell Award, the 2015 IJCAI Award for Research Excellence, AI’s highest honor, and the 2017 Association for Computational Linguistics Lifetime Achievement Award.