NIPS Proceedingsβ

Teaching Machines to Describe Images with Natural Language Feedback

Part of: Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 30 (NIPS 2017)

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Conference Event Type: Poster


Robots will eventually be part of every household. It is thus critical to enable algorithms to learn from and be guided by non-expert users. In this paper, we bring a human in the loop, and enable a human teacher to give feedback to a learning agent in the form of natural language. A descriptive sentence can provide a stronger learning signal than a numeric reward in that it can easily point to where the mistakes are and how to correct them. We focus on the problem of image captioning in which the quality of the output can easily be judged by non-experts. We propose a phrase-based captioning model trained with policy gradients, and design a critic that provides reward to the learner by conditioning on the human-provided feedback. We show that by exploiting descriptive feedback our model learns to perform better than when given independently written human captions.