Neural, neural everywhere: Controlled generation meets scaffolded, structured dialogue
In this paper, we present the second iteration of Chirpy Cardinal, an open-domain dialogue agent developed for the Alexa Prize SGC4 competition. Building on the success of the SGC3 Chirpy, we focus on improving conversational flexibility, initiative, and coherence. We introduce a variety of methods for controllable neural generation, ranging from prefix-based neural decoding over a symbolic scaffolding, to pure neural modules, to a novel hybrid infilling-based method that combines the best of both worlds. Additionally, we enhance previous news, music and movies modules with new APIs, as well as make major improvements in entity linking, topical transitions, and latency. Finally, we expand the variety of responses via new modules that focus on personal issues, sports, food, and even extraterrestrial life! These components come together to create a refreshed Chirpy Cardinal that is able to initiate conversations filled with interesting facts, engaging topics, and heartfelt responses.