Tie your embeddings down: Cross-modal latent spaces for end-to-end spoken language understanding
End-to-end (E2E) spoken language understanding (SLU) systems can infer the semantics of a spoken utterance directly from an audio signal. However, training an E2E system remains a challenge, largely due to the scarcity of paired audio semantics data. In this paper, we consider an E2E system as a multi-modal model, with audio and text functioning as its two modalities, and use a cross-modal latent space (CMLS) architecture, where a shared latent space is learned between the ‘acoustic’ and ‘text’ embeddings. We propose using different multi-modal losses to explicitly align the acoustic embedding to the text embeddings (obtained via a semantically powerful pre-trained BERT model) in the latent space. We train the CMLS model on two publicly available E2E datasets and one internal dataset, across different cross-modal losses. Our proposed triplet loss function achieves the best performance. It achieves a relative improvement of 22.1% over an E2E model without a cross-modal space and a relative improvement of 2.8% over a previously published CMLS model using L2 loss on our internal dataset.