Conversational AI – The practice of today and the potential of tomorrow
In the 2013 film „Her“, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with an empathetic talking computer whose sensitive voice reveals a playful personality developed over time in its own right. Only a few years back, the film was a distant fiction. Over the last years, the voice technology has developed so profoundly that we can now talk to machines in ways that seemed impossible before.
Ever since the invention of the intelligent machines, the empowerment of human-machine communication in natural language has been the holy grail with broad communities from academia and industry dedicating their time and resources. In the span of only last few years, we are finally witnessing the proliferation of conversational systems being used every day by millions of people. These virtual assistants are equipped with natural-language interfaces such as Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa, Cortana and others via in-home devices, phones, or messaging channels such as Messenger, Slack, Skype, among others.
Yet, Conversational AI remains hard since it is a highly-interdisciplinary topic. It covers an umbrella of subjects that have to come together in perfect symbiosis for a system to function well. These include speech recognition, spoken language understanding, reinforcement learning, information retrieval, language generation, conversational UX, and multi-modal question answering.
The goal of the workshop „Voice and AI“ is to give an introduction to the field of Conversational AI with a history of developments and the most prominent applications today. We will then dive into a more technical overview on the conversational systems and the components involved in building them.
We will clarify impactful research problems, as well as share findings from various use cases and large-scale real-world deployments. We will discuss why the development of conversational agents is still difficult and what are the various unanswered questions and challenges.
The workshop will feature spotlight talks, contributed work, and open discussion. The execution of the workshop will be centered around an active engagement of its participants.