Conversation AI

Project Description

Directors: Jeff Higginbotham, Rohini Srihari (UB, Computer Science)
Supervising Researcher: Bizovi
Associate Researchers:  Pal, Valimbe, Buckley, Hutchinson
Start Date: January, 2023

In this project we are developing a software platform to experiment with conversational AI agents. Our plan is to develop an AAC interface in which the AI agent provides a set of contextually responsive utterances to an ongoing conversation between an oral and augmented speaker. We have developed the system architecture and are now working on a simple prototype interface.  Hutchinson is playing a vital role in this project by providing written material to personalize the conversational agent to determine the extent that personal information can optimize its use. He will serve as our first prototype user.

We plan to have an initial interface developed by the end of March and the first implementation of the conversational agent shortly thereafter.

During the Fall, 2022, Rohini Srihari Professor of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) and Higginbotham developed a project proposal which provided an initial set of directive and specifications for this project (link to manuscript).  In January, 2023 we brought on Mike Buckley, Eminent Teaching Professor Emeritus, CSE, Syantan Pal & Shubankar Valimbe (CSE) and Todd Hutchinson (CADL, UB) to work on this project. Jenna Bizovi from CADL oversees project progress.

This project utilizes an AI conversational agent specifically designed to engage in wide ranging social interactions. Of special concern to this project is what types and how much training does the AI need to represent the interests and conversational style of the augmented speaker. To inform the conversational agent we are providing him with a substantial amount of text written by Hutchinson (~132,000 words) as well as, materials from a text containing phrases and utterances needed by augmented speakers to accomplish daily living tasks.

The figures below contain diagrams of the first proposed user interface, system architecture, I|O chart, etc., used to develop the software.

Simple diagram of Conversant AI interface
I|O chart displaying interconnections between the
Conversational AI and the Trainer project
Current version of system architecture for Conversant AI

Blog Posts


Personalizing AAC Communication with Informed Conversational AI

Jeff HigginbothamJun 27, 20232 min read

In the previous post, we explored how we’ve implemented an uninformed AI system to enrich the AAC user experience. Now,…