Beyond Dialogue: The Six W’s of Multi-Party Interaction

Penelope Sibun

While progress has been made in modeling mixedinitiative discourse, many interactive natural language systems still take much for granted. For example, the typical system doesn’t worry about who or where its interlocutor is, or whether there is more than one of them. If a natural language system is to cope in any sort of unrestricted domain, such questions become paramount. In this paper, I describe ongoing research in which a "bot," an interactive character run by a computer program, is deployed in a MOO, a multi-user, text-based, interactive domain. I will show that before the intricacies of mixed initiative and discourse structure can be addressed, the what, who, where, when, why, and how of such discourse must be faced.

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