Multi-Modal Open-Domain Dialogue

Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)


Recent work in open-domain conversational agents has demonstrated that significant improvements in humanness and user preference can be achieved via massive scaling in both pre-training data and model size (Adiwardana et al., 2020; Roller et al., 2020). However, if we want to build agents with human-like abilities, we must expand beyond handling just text. A particularly important topic is the ability to see images and communicate about what is perceived. With the goal of getting humans to engage in multi-modal dialogue, we investigate combining components from state-of-the-art open-domain dialogue agents with those from state-of-the-art vision models. We study incorporating different image fusion schemes and domain-adaptive pre-training and fine-tuning strategies, and show that our best resulting model outperforms strong existing models in multi-modal dialogue while simultaneously performing as well as its predecessor (text-only) BlenderBot (Roller et al., 2020) in text-based conversation. We additionally investigate and incorporate safety components in our final model, and show that such efforts do not diminish model performance with respect to human preference.

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