Is anybody still using Conceptual Dependency Theory?
Yes. Many people. Conceptual dependencies are central to the conveyance of ideas in natural language.
Here are just a few publications in this century building off of Schank's work or travelling in parallel with his direction in related fields.
I met Roger Schank in Hartford, in 1992, during a lecture series sponsored by the AI labs of United Technologies Research Center and a few other Fortune 500 companies in the region. His entire lecture was a series of stories in AI research. I remember every story 26 years later.
The toy NLP implementations you see in the field today pale in comparison with the story based reasoning and memory systems proposed by Dr. Schank as a probable explanation of observations that can be made about human vocal communications.
It is easy to guess the reason he moved into education. His natural language and artificial intelligence ideas were about a century early and over the heads of most of the people that were at the lecture alongside me.
If you and I find his story-based reasoning and memory proposals compelling, we are probably a century too early and a bit over the heads of most in the present day NLP field. Most of those in labs in the 1980s found Schank irritating, and people who fit comfortably into today's technology culture find him irrelevant.
Some of those I interacted with on a project from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor don't find his work irrelevant though, and their work is in the directions he indicated. Unfortunately the client NDA restricts me from commenting further about that project.
The reason we should not and ultimately will not abandon the idea that we communicate in stories is because it is correct. When a person says, "It makes me want to puke," or, "I love you too," the direct parse of those sentences using "modern" techniques are not closely related to a correct reconstruction of the idea in the mind of the speaker. Both sentences reference a conceptual heap of interdependence that we call a story.
If two "party girls" are in the ladies room at a Borgore concert and one says, "Hand me a roll," the interpretation of the word, "roll," is conceptually dependent. If the speaker is in a stall it means one thing. If at the sink it means another.
There will always be some segment of the research community that understands this. Those that do not may construct money-saving automatons that will answer your business's phone calls, but they will not give you a heads up on a customer relations pattern that points to a policy issue.
These toy NLP agents, until they develop the capabilities Dr. Schank proposed, will not recognize from phone conversations with clients that a product or service enhancement is an opportunity waiting to be exploited, and they won't tell you a story that will convince you that you would benefit from being the first to capitalize on the opportunity.