Understanding User Utterances in a Dialog System for Caregiving

A dialog system that can monitor the health status of seniors has a huge potential for solving the labor force shortage in the caregiving industry in aging societies. As a part of efforts to create such a system, we are developing two modules that are aimed to correctly interpret user utterances: (i) a yes/no response classifier, which categorizes responses to health-related yes/no questions that the system asks; and (ii) an entailment recognizer, which detects users{'} voluntary mentions about their health status. To apply machine learning approaches to the development of the modules, we created large annotated datasets of 280,467 question-response pairs and 38,868 voluntary utterances. For question-response pairs, we asked annotators to avoid direct {``}yes{''} or {``}no{''} answers, so that our data could cover a wide range of possible natural language responses. The two modules were implemented by fine-tuning a BERT model, which is a recent successful neural network model. For the yes/no response classifier, the macro-average of the average precisions (APs) over all of our four categories (Yes/No/Unknown/Other) was 82.6{\%} (96.3{\%} for {``}yes{''} responses and 91.8{\%} for {``}no{''} responses), while for the entailment recognizer it was 89.9{\%}.

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