Breakout rooms will be open at the end of sessions each day!


Breakout rooms are identified by broad topics with suggested sub-topics. Each room will have a moderator that will survey participants as to the sub-topics of most interest and ask for further discussion topics. Some speakers will join breakout sessions to provide insights or allow further questions in their area of expertise. Attendees will be asked to prioritize breakout topics prior to the conference, and there may be multiple breakout rooms on the same topic to keep the number of participants in each room to a manageable number.

Controversial topics in conversational technology

  • Will conversational AI technology improve or worsen the 'language barrier' by favoring a specific language?

  • Can analysis of an individual's voice provide indications of their mental state or physical health?

  • How should we deal with privacy tradeoffs, such as collecting voice samples from individuals to improve speech recognition?

  • Should an application try to “make friends” with users, or should it just do its job?

  • Should virtual agents be required by law to inform the humans they interact with that the agents are virtual and not human?


Technical issues

  • Some assume that machine learning will drive expansion of conversational effectiveness. Will effective bots and assistants require significant handcrafting, as is often the case today?

  • How can we best combine human and automated conversational support?

  • Should conversational systems use directed dialog, that is, sufficient prompting to limit the conversation, or attempt to let the user change the subject?

  • What is the best Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for building conversational apps?

  • Today, versions of "deep learning" are driving most innovations in natural language understanding. Are there other breakthrough technologies on the horizon?

  • Will dialog technology evolve to allow an automated system to retain context throughout a conversation?

Applying conversational technologies

  • Are bots and assistants a fad, or a basic advance that will stick and grow? What should a company's priorities be in taking advantage of this trend?

  • What applications best serve consumers? Which make employees more effective and efficient within an enterprise?

  • Chatbots using text interaction rather than speech interaction on web sites or smartphones can have some advantages over speech interaction, e.g., less processing, more tolerance of delays in response by the analogy to texting, and easier interaction of human support. Will this option be an early driver of automated natural language interaction?

  • What are other applications of human language technology, e.g., analyzing call center recordings for trends and adherence to company policy by agents? How effective are such applications?

  • What are the limitations of conversational technologies today? Can they be remedied?

  • Should conversational systems use directed dialog, that is, sufficient prompting to limit the conversation, or attempt to let the user change the subject?

  • Should text-to-speech synthesis sound robotic so that users know they are talking to a computer?


  • Should customer service be an initial focus for companies? What does experience with current technology indicate about the effectiveness of conversational automation? How can conversational automation be best integrated with human agents?

  • What are the differences between text-based chatbots and voice-interactive digital assistants in terms of performance, difficulty in development, cost of deployment and development, etc.?

  • What are the best applications for company-internal conversational applications? Is the human resources department the main target for automation? What are the payoffs for conversational interfaces to enterprise software, such as sales-management software?

  • What applications will drive continued growth in conversational technology? What new applications may evolve, e.g., health diagnosis from voice?

  • What about analytics technology, analyzing unstructured text or voice "big data" for its implications?

Why are you here?

A session where attendees describe their major interests, and motivate discussions on topics of interest to participants.

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