Sep 9–12, 2019

Going beyond FAQ assistants with machine learning and open source tools

9:00am12:30pm Tuesday, September 10, 2019
Location: 230 B
Average rating: *****
(5.00, 1 rating)

Who is this presentation for?

  • Machine learning engineers, data scientists, and product managers




AI assistants are one of the most in-demand topics in the tech industry right now. With technology moving forward and more data becoming available, companies strive to build their own conversational software. When built well, AI assistants provide great strategic business value and are fun to interact with. However, the majority of assistants built today are developed using just a set of rules or a state machine and don’t go beyond simple FAQ interactions. This doesn’t scale in production and often provides a rather disappointing user experience.

Justina Petraityte takes a different approach and details how to build an intelligent assistant without any predefined rules. Instead, using open source libraries Rasa NLU and Rasa Core, you’ll build an assistant that learns by observing real conversations. You’ll leave with an engaging and fully functioning conversational assistant based entirely on machine learning.


Stage 1: Natural language understanding (NLU)—You start with language understanding and bootstrapping from very little annotated training data. In this stage, you’ll also tackle the challenges of going beyond pretrained word vectors for NLU and enabling the assistant to capture more than one intention per user input.

Stage 2: Dialogue management—You’ll use machine learning to build the AI assistant’s ability to handle increasingly complex multiturn dialogues based on the actual conversational data. You’ll also enable the assistant to actually complete user-requested tasks by connecting the assistant to external APIs and using the knowledge of the outside world to steer the conversation.

Stage 3: Closing the feedback loop—You’ll close the feedback loop by improving the performance of the assistant by using the real-time user feedback and conversation history.

Prerequisite knowledge

  • A working knowledge of programming in Python
  • A basic understanding of fundamental ML concepts

Materials or downloads needed in advance

  • A laptop with Python 3.6 installed
  • During the workshop we will use the exercise from the repository.

What you'll learn

  • Understand machine learning behind the NLU and dialogue management and the techniques of building language-agnostic NLU models
  • See best practices of gathering and preparing the training data and of closing the feedback loop using real-time user feedback and conversation history
  • Use open source tools Rasa NLU and Rasa Core to implement conversational assistants from scratch
Photo of Justina Petraityte

Justina Petraityte


Justina Petraityte is a developer advocate at Berlin-based startup Rasa, where she helps improve the developer experience in using open source software for conversational AI. Justina has a background in econometrics and data analytics, and her interests include chatbots, natural language processing, and open source. Her curiosity for data science and human-behavior analytics has taken her to many places and industries; over the past three years, she’s worked in the video gaming, fintech, and insurance industries.

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Picture of Justina Petraityte
Justina Petraityte | Developer Advocate
09/09/2019 11:34am PDT

During the workshop we will use the exercise from the repo:

  • Intel AI
  • O'Reilly
  • Amazon Web Services
  • IBM Watson
  • Dataiku
  • Dell Technologies
  • Intuit
  • Gamalon
  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise
  • MapR Technologies
  • Sisu Data
  • Intuit

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