Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Oracle Bot Cloud (IBCS): Switching Intents while in conversation (Nested Intent)

Problem Description: If we see IBCS flow generally tries to find user intent first. Once it identifies and intent, it tries to complete intent based on flow defined. There are all reasons that end user may want to switch his intent before completing first intent. For example, I am ordering pizza but while system asks me for pizza type, I decide to verify their payment options and I changed my intent. Something like below

Me: I would like to order a pizza
       
                   Bot: Which type of pizza would you like to have?

Me: Hold on, What are your payment options
     
               
In ideal conversation bot should provide me details of payment. Once payment options information is provided, it can ask me if I want to continue with Pizza order.

But in general we use either System.Text or System.List component when we want to take user input. This is the time when user can change his mind (or intent).

It looks like
askPizzaType:
    component: "System.List"
    properties:
      options: "${pizzaType.type.enumValues}"
      prompt: "Which type of pizza would you like to have?"
      variable: "pizzaType"
    transitions: {}

with this state, bot will provide a list of pizza types (say small, medium or large). Now even if user changes his mind and asks about payment options, bot will ask pizza type again and again. Very annoying.

In this blog we want to make it a bit realistic and introduce intelligence of user intent switching.

Lets say we have following initial bot configuration

1. Intents: OrderPizza, ProvideInfo
2. Entity: PizzaType (Associated with OrderPizza Intent)

3. Dialog-Flow:

Its able to complete payment option enquiry and pizza order but if user tries to switch from OrderPizza intent to ProvideInfo, bot keeps on asking about pizza type as shown below


Now lets improve it to handle intent switching.
a. To stop bot asking for pizzaType repeatedly, we can introduce maxPrompts=1 with askPizzaType (System.List) component.

b. We can add cancel action with askPizzaType (System.List) component to perform a transition, if bot can't find pizzaType even after max number of attempts ( NOTE: here we have already set max attempt as 1, so user can only provide one input. If that is not small/medium/large, cancel transition will take place)
askPizzaType:
    component: "System.List"
    properties:
      options: "${pizzaType.type.enumValues}"
      prompt: "Which type of pizza would you like to have?"
      variable: "pizzaType" 
      maxPrompts: 1
    transitions: 
      actions:
        cancel: "verifyIntentWhileOrderPizzaInProgress"    

c. verifyIntentWhileOrderPizzaInProgress can set uncompletedIntent in a variable and then perform an nlp intent-matching on user input. If its unresolved in NLP matching assume that user is trying to answer pizzaType question but some typo etc happened so lets take him back to askPizzaType.

verifyIntentWhileOrderPizzaInProgress:
    component: "System.SetVariable"
    properties:
      variable: "uncompletedIntent"
      value: "OrderPizza"
    transitions: {}        
  verifyIntent:
    component: "System.Intent"
    properties:
      variable: "iResult2"
      confidenceThreshold: 0.4
    transitions:
      actions:
        OrderPizza: "orderPizza"
        ProvideInfo: "provideInfo"
        unresolvedIntent: "askPizzaType"

d. Lets improve provideInfo state as well to handle uncompleted intent (OrderPizza). After providing information of payment option, verify if there is any uncompleted intent. If yes suggest to continue with that intent else done
provideInfo:
    component: "System.Output"
    properties:
      text: "We support credit card, debit card and cash on delivery. "
      keepTurn: true
    transitions: 
       next: "isAnyIncompleteIntent"

e. Lets introduce few states to gracefully end conversation or ask for any pending intent completion.
  isAnyIncompleteIntent:
    component: "System.ConditionEquals"
    properties:
      variable: "uncompletedIntent"
      value: "OrderPizza"
    transitions:
      actions:
        equal: "askToStartPizzaOrderAgain"
        notequal: "done"  
  askToStartPizzaOrderAgain:
    component: "System.Output"
    properties:
      text: "Lets continue with Pizza ordering."
      keepTurn: true
    transitions: 
       next: "orderPizza"   
  done:
    component: "System.Output"
    properties:
      text: "Is there any other way I can help you?"
    transitions:
      actions:
       return: "done"

Complete flow looks like below

Effectively by above improvements in flow we are trying to enable user to switch intent while in between conversation.
After above change flow looks like this.
Thats all

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