Reinforcement Learning (RL) model for self-improving chatbots, specifically targeting FAQ-type chatbots.

Elena Ricciardelli, Debmalya Biswas

Abstract. We present a Reinforcement Learning (RL) model for self-improving chatbots, specifically targeting FAQ-type chatbots. The model is not aimed at building a dialog system from scratch, but to leverage data from user conversations to improve chatbot performance. At the core of our approach is a score model, which is trained to score chatbot utterance-response tuples based on user feedback. The scores predicted by this model are used as rewards for the RL agent. Policy learning takes place offline, thanks to an user simulator which is fed with utterances from the FAQ-database. Policy learning is implemented using a Deep Q-Network (DQN) agent with epsilon-greedy exploration, which is tailored to effectively include fallback answers for out-of-scope questions. The potential of our approach is shown on a small case extracted from an enterprise chatbot. …

Mobile App Privacy Framework to quantify usage based on Location, Contacts & Content

Debmalya Biswas, Imad Aad, Gian Paolo Perrucci

Abstract. The ever increasing popularity of apps stems from their ability to provide highly customized services to the user. The flip side is that in order to provide such services, apps need access to very sensitive private information about the user. This leads to malicious apps that collect personal user information in the background and exploit it in various ways. Studies have shown that current app vetting processes which are mainly restricted to install time verification mechanisms are incapable of detecting and preventing such attacks. We argue that the missing fundamental aspect here is a comprehensive and usable mobile privacy solution, one that not only protects the user’s location information, but also other equally sensitive user data such as the user’s contacts and documents. A solution that is usable by the average user who does not understand or care about the low level technical details. To bridge this gap, we propose privacy metrics that quantify low-level app accesses in terms of privacy impact and transforms them to high-level user understandable ratings. …

Is synthetic data more privacy compliant?

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Federated Learning: based on the pic by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Federated learning [1], also known as Collaborative Learning, or Privacy preserving Machine Learning, enables multiple entities who do not trust each other (fully), to collaborate in training a Machine Learning (ML) model on their combined dataset; without actually sharing data — addressing critical issues such as privacy, access rights and access to heterogeneous confidential data.

This is in contrast to traditional (centralized) ML techniques where local datasets (belonging to different entities) need to be first brought to a common location before model training. …

Manage licensing risks of Open Source Data Science projects

This is an extended article accompanying the presentation on “Open Source Enterprise AI/ML Governance” at Linux Foundation’s Open Compliance Summit, Dec 2020 (link) (pptx)

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Open Source Software Licensing: based on the pic by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Open Source Software Enterprise Adoption Trends

The best AI/ML software today from model development (scikit-learn, TensorFlow, PyTorch) to deployment (Kubeflow, Spark) is Open Source. According to Gartner, “more than 90% of companies rely on Open Source Software”. The below snapshot should give you an idea of the pervasiveness of Open Source Software (OSS) in the Enterprise.

Explainability, Bias, Reproducibility & Accountability

Abstract. With the growing adoption of Open Source based AI/ML systems in enterprises, there is a need to ensure that AI/ML applications are responsibly trained and deployed. This effort is complicated by different governmental organizations and regulatory bodies releasing their own guidelines and policies with little to no agreement on the definition of terms, e.g. there are 20+ definitions of ‘fairness’. In this article, we will provide an overview explaining the key components of this ecosystem: Data, Models, Software, Ethics and Vendor Management. We will outline the relevant regulations such that Compliance/Legal teams are better prepared to establish a comprehensive AI Governance framework. …

Making Sense of Big Data

Develop personalized apps using a combination of Reinforcement Learning and NLP/Chatbots

Abstract. We present a Reinforcement Learning (RL) based approach to implement Recommender Systems. The results are based on a real-life Wellness app that is able to provide personalized health / activity related content to users in an interactive fashion. Unfortunately, current recommender systems are unable to adapt to continuously evolving features, e.g. user sentiment, and scenarios where the RL reward needs to computed based on multiple and unreliable feedback channels (e.g., sensors, wearables). …

HVAC optimization in factories for a sustainable future

Abstract. Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) units are responsible for maintaining the temperature and humidity settings in a building. Studies have shown that HVAC accounts for almost 50% energy consumption in a building and 10% of global electricity usage. HVAC optimization thus has the potential to contribute significantly towards our sustainability goals, reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions. In this work, we explore ways to optimize the HVAC controls in factories. Unfortunately, this is a complex problem as it requires computing an optimal state considering multiple variable factors, e.g. the occupancy, manufacturing schedule, temperature requirements of operating machines, air flow dynamics within the building, external weather conditions, energy savings, etc. We present a Reinforcement Learning (RL) based energy optimization model that has been applied in our factories. We show that RL is a good fit as it is able to learn and adapt to multi-parameterized system dynamics in real-time. …


Do (will) we still need Data Scientists?

AutoML tools have been gaining traction for the last couple of years, both due to technological advancements and their potential to be leveraged by ‘Citizen Data Scientists’. Citizen Data Science, is an interesting (often controversial) aspect of Data Science (DS) that aims to automate the design of Machine Learning (ML)/Deep Learning (DL) models, making it more accessible to people without the specialized skills of a Data Scientist.

In this article, we will try to understand AutoML, its promise, what is possible today?, where AutoML fails (today)?, …

Privacy preserving NLP based on Entity Filtering and Searchable Encryption

Abstract. With chatbots gaining traction and their adoption growing in different verticals, e.g. Health, Banking, Dating; and users sharing more and more private information with chatbots — studies have started to highlight the privacy risks of chatbots. In this paper, we propose two privacy-preserving approaches for chatbot conversations. The first approach applies ‘entity’ based privacy filtering and transformation, and can be applied directly on the app (client) side. It however requires knowledge of the chatbot design to be enabled. We present a second scheme based on Searchable Encryption that is able to preserve user chat privacy, without requiring any knowledge of the chatbot design. …

Getting Started

3-tier Chatbot architecture integrating Search

This is an informal take on the technological choice that we are often faced with when designing Chatbots, i.e. should we build a Chatbot or a Natural Language Search (NLS), or a may be a mix of both? The primary motivation of both is to make enterprise data and applications (more) accessible to every company employee — to foster knowledge sharing and collaboration. With this objective, we explore two integration architectures:

  • Search enabled Chatbots
  • Conversational Search


Much has been said and written about Chatbots. However, most of this discussion is focused around Consumer facing bots — the multi-million dollar bot that will radically transform your company’s image and allow you to save a few million on the sidelines. It goes without saying that building such a singular bot also requires investment in the order of a few hundred thousand dollars. …


Debmalya Biswas

AI and Open Source Architect | Ex-Nokia, SAP, Oracle | 50+ Patents |

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