Posts Tagged ‘social learning’

Conversational AI: The Science behind the Alexa Prize

Conversational agents are exploding in popularity. However, much work remains in the area of social conversation as well as free-form conversation over a broad range of domains and topics. To advance the state of the art in conversational AI, Amazon launched the Alexa Prize, a 2.5-million-dollar university competition where sixteen selected university teams were challenged to build conversational agents, known as “socialbots”, to converse coherently and engagingly with humans on popular topics such as Sports, Politics, Entertainment, Fashion and Technology for 20 minutes.

The Alexa Prize offered the academic community a unique opportunity to perform research with a live system used by millions of users. The competition provided university teams with real user conversational data at scale, along with the user-provided ratings and feedback augmented with annotations by the Alexa team. This enabled teams to effectively iterate and make improvements throughout the competition while being evaluated in real-time through live user interactions.

To build their socialbots, university teams combined state-of-the-art techniques with novel strategies in the areas of Natural Language Understanding, Context Modeling, Dialog Management, Response Generation, and Knowledge Acquisition. To support the teams’ efforts, the Alexa Prize team made significant scientific and engineering investments to build and improve Conversational Speech Recognition, Topic Tracking, Dialog Evaluation, Voice User Experience, and tools for traffic management and scalability.

This paper outlines the advances created by the university teams as well as the Alexa Prize team to achieve the common goal of solving the problem of Conversational AI.

Conversational AI: The Science behind the Alexa Prize

by Ashwin Ram, Rohit Prasad, Chandra Khatri, Anu Venkatesh, Raefer Gabriel, Qing Liu, Jeff Nunn, Behnam Hedayatnia, Ming Cheng, Ashish Nagar, Eric King, Kate Bland, Amanda Wartick, Yi Pan, Han Song, Sk Jayadevan, Gene Hwang, Art Pettigrue

Proceedings of the 2017 Alexa Prize
Invited talk at NIPS-2017 Workshop on Conversational AI
Invited talk at re:Invent 2017 (with Spyros Matsoukas)

READ THE PAPER:

s3.amazonaws.com/alexaprize/2017/technical-article/alexaprize.pdf
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Conversational News Experiences

News consumption is a passive experience—reading print or online newspapers, listening to radio shows and podcasts, watching television broadcasts. News producers create, curate, and organize  content which consumers absorb passively. With the advent of interactive conversational technologies ranging from chatbots to voice-based conversational assistants such as Amazon Alexa, there is an opportunity to engage consumers in more interactive experiences around news.

At the Computation+Journalism symposium held at Northwestern University this year, Emily Withrow, editor at Quartz Bot Studio and assistant professor at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism and I had a fireside chat to share recent technological developments in this area and explore what kinds of conversational news experiences these technologies might enable.

Panel at the 2017 Computation+Journalism Symposium, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. #cj2017 

A Group-Based Mobile Application to Increase Adherence in Exercise and Nutrition Programs: A Factorial Design Feasibility Study

Novel methods of promoting self-monitoring and social support are needed to ensure long-term maintenance of behavior change. In this paper, we directly investigate the effects of group support in an exercise and nutrition program delivered by an mHealth application called Fittle.

Our first specific study aim was to explore whether social support improved adherence in wellness programs. Our second specific study aim was to assess whether media types (ePaper vs mobile) were associated with different levels of compliance and adherence to wellness programs. The third aim was to assess whether the use of an mHealth application led to positive changes to participants’ eating behavior, physical activity, and stress level, compared to traditional paper-based programs.

Conclusions: The team-based Fittle app is an acceptable and feasible wellness behavior change intervention and a full randomized controlled trial to investigate the efficacy of such an intervention is warranted.

A Group-Based Mobile Application to Increase Adherence in Exercise and Nutrition Programs: A Factorial Design Feasibility Study

by Honglu Du, Anusha Venkatakrishnan, Michael Youngblood, Ashwin Ram, Peter Pirolli

Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) mHealth uHealth, 4(1), 2016.
mhealth.jmir.org/2016/1/e4/

From Dr Google, to Dr Facebook, and beyond…

I recently appeared on the ABC Health Report radio program.

Joel Werner: Do you ever go online to search for symptoms that you’re experiencing? I do it all the time, and it’s a trend that has picked up the nickname ‘Dr Google’. For Ashwin Ram, Dr Google is just one step on the path to future healthcare…

The Intelligent Web: Shaping Behavior at the Intersection of Health, Wealth, & Choice

The web is evolving from information (portals) to interaction (social/mobile). The next stage will be about influence: shaping attitudes and behaviors. To do this effectively requires a new kind of technology: user modeling. It also requires an innovation methodology that is fundamentally about people, not technology.

I discuss three big ideas in innovation for consumer engagement and behavior change, and illustrate using examples from healthcare, education, and financial services.
Invited keynote at Amplify: Business Innovation and Thought Leadership, June 2013, Australia.

SLIDES:

Health : Healthcare :: Learning : Education

With the advent of open education resources, social networking technologies and new pedagogies for online and blended learning, we are in the early stages of a significant disruption in current models of education. ‘Learning’ is beginning to peel away from ‘Education’ as a separate market, with its own set of opportunities and challenges for practitioners, technologists, and entrepreneurs. While ‘education’ is driven by schools, colleges, and governments, ‘learning’ focuses on empowering the individual to take charge of their learning.

Interestingly, a similar phenomenon is occurring in healthcare, fueled by the confluence of similar trends and technologies: open health resources, social networking technologies and new methodologies for consumer engagement. ‘Health’ is starting to emerge as a separate and disruptive market, with its own opportunities and challenges. While ‘healthcare’ is driven by providers, payers, and governments, ‘health’ focuses on empowering the consumer to take charge of their health and wellness. 

In this talk, I discuss recent trends in these two industries, explain why they are analogous, and discuss opportunities for user experience, big data, analytics and social capital research. I provide examples of social, mobile, and game technologies that are creating the disruption, and highlight key research challenges that are yet to be addressed.

Invited talk at UC Berkeley, iSchool “Thought Leaders in Data Science and Analytics”, April 11, 2012. 

SLIDES

Transforming the Industry: Watson in Education

Watson, named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, was built by a team of IBM scientists with valuable help from research partners from Carnegie Mellon University, University of Texas, University of Southern California, University of Massachusetts, University of Trento (Italy), MIT, RPI, and the University of Albany. The team set out to accomplish a grand challenge—to build a computing system that rivals a human’s ability to answer questions posed in natural language with speed, accuracy and confidence. Watson passed its first test on Jeopardy! in February 2011, but the real test will be in applying the underlying systems, data management and analytics technology across different industries, especially in education.

Invited panel presentation at IBM Watson in Education: Transforming the Industry, IBM Almaden Research Center, November 16, 2011