Linguistic and Cognitive Approaches to Dialog Agents Workshop, Sweden


CSRI Research Assistant Dan Harborne will be presenting at the LACATODA 2018 conference in Stockholm, Sweden. Dan will present the paper “Conversational Control Interface to Facilitate Situational Understanding in a City Surveillance Setting”.

With the increase in power and ubiquity of technology, the volume of information and data processing resources available to tactical decision makers, such as emergency service incident commanders and police tactical officers, has reached unmanageable levels. At the point of making a decision, it has now become impossible to manually monitor and take in to account the outputs of all these information items. Instead tools must be made available to facilitate decision making such that the right information can be accessed and analysed on demand.

An approach to achieving such a tool is to provide a conversational interface to users - one where the user can ask questions to the system, which in turn can decide what resources are required to appropriately answer the question. The system can then either directly calculate and return the answer or can present the resources required to the user, so they can apply their expertise to form the answer from a small and precise subset of information.

This approach is similar to that of many consumer home assistant products such as Amazon’s Alexa. However, these home assistants require a lot of training time to be able to answer questions and often aren’t robust enough to be used in tactical applications. The work being presented at LACATODA takes advantage of IBM’s Controlled English technology and demonstrates that a domain-specific conversational interface can be set up without the long training time and can provides robust responses for requests appropriate for the domain.