Session 7C: Sessions and Interaction
Self-Supervised Bot Play for Transcript-Free Conversational Recommendation with Rationales
Shuyang Li | UC San Diego, United States; Bodhisattwa Prasad Majumder | UC San Diego, United States; Julian McAuley | UC San Diego, United States;
Conversational recommender systems offer a way for users to engage in multi-turn conversations to find items they enjoy. For users to trust an agent and give effective feedback, the recommender system must be able to explain its suggestions and rationales. We develop a two-part framework for training multi-turn conversational recommenders that provide recommendation rationales that users can effectively interact with to receive better recommendations. First, we train a recommender system to jointly suggest items and explain its reasoning via subjective rationales. We then fine-tune this model to incorporate iterative user feedback via self-supervised bot-play. Experiments on three real-world datasets demonstrate that our system can be applied to different recommendation models across diverse domains to achieve state-of-the-art performance in multi-turn recommendation. Human studies show that systems trained with our framework provide more useful, helpful, and knowledgeable suggestions in warm- and cold-start settings. Our framework allows us to use only product reviews during training, avoiding the need for expensive dialog transcript datasets that limit the applicability of previous conversational recommender agents.