Learning Smooth, Human-Like Turntaking in Realtime Dialogue

  • Gudny Ragna Jonsdottir
  • Kristinn R. Thorisson
  • Eric Nivel
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 5208)


Giving synthetic agents human-like realtime turntaking skills is a challenging task. Attempts have been made to manually construct such skills, with systematic categorization of silences, prosody and other candidate turn-giving signals, and to use analysis of corpora to produce static decision trees for this purpose. However, for general-purpose turntaking skills which vary between individuals and cultures, a system that can learn them on-the-job would be best. We are exploring ways to use machine learning to have an agent learn proper turntaking during interaction. We have implemented a talking agent that continuously adjusts its turntaking behavior to its interlocutors based on realtime analysis of the other party’s prosody. Initial results from experiments on collaborative, content-free dialogue show that, for a given subset of turn-taking conditions, our modular reinforcement learning techniques allow the system to learn to take turns in an efficient, human-like manner.


Turntaking Machine Learning Prosody End-of-utterance detection 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gudny Ragna Jonsdottir
    • 1
  • Kristinn R. Thorisson
    • 1
  • Eric Nivel
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Analysis & Design of Intelligent Agents & School of Computer ScienceReykjavik UniversityReykjavikIceland

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