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Shaping the Narrative Arc: Information-Theoretic Collaborative Dialogue

George Foster
Marc G. Bellemare
International Conference on Computational Creativity (2020)


We consider the challenge of designing an artificial agent capable of interacting with humans in collaborative dialogue to produce creative, engaging narratives. Collaborative dialogue is distinct from chit-chat in that it is knowledge building, each utterance provides just enough information to add specificity and reduce ambiguity without limiting the conversation. We use concepts from information theory to define a narrative arc function which models dialogue progression. We demonstrate that this function can be used to modulate a generative conversation model and make it produce more interesting dialogues, compared to baseline outputs. We focus on two antithetical modes of modulation: reveal and conceal. Empirically, we show how the narrative arc function can model existing dialogues and shape conversation models towards either mode. We conclude with quantitative evidence suggesting that these modulated models provide interesting and engaging dialogue partners for improvisational theatre performers.