Learning Cooperative Visual Dialog Agents with Deep Reinforcement Learning

International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV)


We introduce the first goal-driven training for visual question answering and dialog agents. Specifically, we pose a cooperative ‘image guessing’ game between two agents – Q-BOT and A-BOT– who communicate in natural language dialog so that Q-BOT can select an unseen image from a lineup of images. We use deep reinforcement learning (RL) to learn the policies of these agents end-to-end – from pixels to multi-agent multi-round dialog to game reward.

We demonstrate two experimental results.

First, as a ‘sanity check’ demonstration of pure RL (from scratch), we show results on a synthetic world, where the agents communicate in ungrounded vocabularies, i.e., symbols with no pre-specified meanings (X, Y, Z). We find that two bots invent their own communication protocol and start using certain symbols to ask/answer about certain visual attributes (shape/color/style). Thus, we demonstrate the emergence of grounded language and communication among ‘visual’ dialog agents with no human supervision.

Second, we conduct large-scale real-image experiments on the VisDial dataset [5], where we perform supervised pretraining with human-dialog data and show that the RL fine-tuned agents significantly outperform their supervised counterparts. Interestingly, the RL Q-BOT learns to ask questions that A-BOT is good at, ultimately resulting in more informative dialog and a better team. Further, pretraining with human-dialog data (in English) ensures human-interpretability and scope for pairing these agents with humans.

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