User Participation in the Reasoning Processes of Expert Systems

Martha E. Pollack, Julia Hirschberg, Bonnie Webber

We argue that expert systems, if they are to satisfy the legitimate needs of their users, must include dialogue capabilities as sophisticated as those proposed in current Natural Language research. In particular they must allow the user to direct the flow of the dialogue and must take into account the user’s goals and expectations both in analyzing the user’s statements and in providing appropriate responses. Our claims are corroborated by an analysis of transcripts of a "naturally occurring" expert system, a radio talk show in which callers ask an expert for financial advice. We present data demonstrating that user-expert dialogues are best viewed as a negotiation process, and we describe the exchanges that compose the dialogue in terms of the motivations, goals, strategies, and moves of the participants.

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