Viola: A topic agnostic generate-and-rank dialogue system
We present Viola, an open-domain dialogue system for spoken conversation that uses a topic-agnostic dialogue manager based on a simple generate-and-rank ap- proach. Leveraging recent advances of generative dialogue systems powered by large language models, Viola fetches a batch of response candidates from various neural dialogue models trained with different datasets and knowledge-grounding inputs. Additional responses originating from template-based generators are also considered, depending on the user’s input and detected entities. The hand-crafted generators build on a dynamic knowledge graph injected with rich content that is crawled from the web and automatically processed on a daily basis. Viola’s response ranker is a fine-tuned polyencoder that chooses the best response given the dialogue history. While dedicated annotations for the polyencoder alone can indirectly steer it away from choosing problematic responses, we add rule-based safety nets to detect neural degeneration and a dedicated classifier to filter out offensive content. We analyze conversations that Viola took part in for the Alexa Prize Socialbot Grand Challenge 4 and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of our approach. Lastly, we suggest future work with a focus on curating conversation data specifcially for socialbots that will contribute towards a more robust data-driven socialbot.