Dean's Seminar Series: Phil Cohen

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Event Details

11 Apr 2018 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Clayton Seminar Room G12A,14 Rainforest Walk (Blg 26), VC to H7.84 Caulfield


Phil Cohen

Steps Towards Collaborative Dialogue

Speaker: Dr. Phil Cohen, Chief Scientist, AI and Sr. Vice President for Advanced Technology at Voicebox Technologies.

Abstract: This talk will discuss progress in building collaborative dialogue systems, which are a core part of virtual assistants. One school of AI researchers has long emphasized that dialogue is best analyzed as a special case of collaborative behavior. Collaborative interaction involves recognizing someone’s goals, intentions, and plans, and then performing actions to facilitate them. People have learned this basic capability at a very young age and are expected to collaborate as part of ordinary social interaction. In general, people’s plans involve both speech acts (such as requests, questions, confirmations, etc.) and physical acts. When collaborative behavior is applied to speech acts, people infer the reasons behind their interlocutor’s utterances and attempt to ensure their success. Such reasoning is apparent when an information agent answers the question “Do you know where the Sydney flight leaves?” with “Yes, Gate 8, and it’s running 20 minutes late.” It is also apparent when one asks “where is the nearest petrol station?” and the interlocutor answers “2 kilometers to your right” even though it isn’t the closest, but rather the closest one that is open. In this latter case, the respondent has inferred that you want to buy petrol, not just to know the location of the station. In both cases, the literal and truthful answer is not cooperative.

In order to build systems that can engage humans in collaborative dialogue, I argue that a system needs components for planning, plan recognition, and for reasoning about people’s mental states (beliefs, desires, goals, intentions, obligations, etc.). In this talk, I will discuss the theory and practice of such collaborative BDI architectures, and demonstrate how they can form the basis for an advanced collaborative dialogue manager.

Speaker bio: Dr. Phil Cohen has long been engaged in the AI subfields of human-computer dialogue, multimodal interaction, and multiagent systems. He is a Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, and a past President of the Association for Computational Linguistics. Currently Chief Scientist, AI and Sr. Vice President for Advanced Technology at Voicebox Technologies, he has also held positions at Adapx Inc (founder), the Oregon Graduate Institute, Artificial Intelligence Center of SRI International, Fairchild Laboratory for Artificial Intelligence, and Bolt Bernanek and Newman. His accomplishments include co-developing influential theories of intention, collaboration, and speech acts, co-developing and deploying high-performance multimodal systems to the US Government, and conceiving and leading the project at SRI International that developed the Open Agent Architecture, which eventually became Siri. Cohen has published more than 150 refereed papers, with more than 16,000 citations, and received 7 patents. His paper with Prof. Hector Levesque “Intention is Choice with Commitment” was awarded the inaugural Influential Paper Award from the International Foundation for Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems. Most recently, he is the recipient of the 2017 Sustained Accomplishment Award from the International Conference on Multimodal Interaction. At Voicebox, Cohen currently leads a team engaged in semantic parsing, and human-computer dialogue.

Event Contact

Jon Whittle