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Research Assistant in Argument Technology



The Centre for Argument Technology (www.arg.tech) is one of the world’s leading research groups in the computational application of theories of argument. As an interdisciplinary team, we focus on developing foundational theory in philosophy, linguistics and cognitive science that facilitates the development of practical AI applications. The goal is to help improve, teach, track and navigate the discussions and debates that run our governments, structure scientific research, underpin the corporate boardroom, drive legal process and frame religious beliefs.

Our research has attracted funding of over £8m, and we have over 200 refereed papers in print. Our freely available software tools such as OVA (for performing argument analysis) have tens of thousands of users, we have pioneered robust new standards such as the AIF and we have the largest freely accessible corpus of analysed argumentation anywhere in the world in AIFdb. The group also hosted the editorial office for the journal Argument and Computation from its inception in 2010 until 2016.

Our collaborations and consultancy with commercial and government organisations including IBM, DSTL and the BBC have driven our focus on end-user impact, and our public communication in print and broadcast media has reached over 30 million people.

The Centre for Argument Technology is a highly interdisciplinary environment, and candidates should be willing to work across traditional disciplinary boundaries.

ARG-tech’s software stack provides an environment for academic tools (such as one of the most popular analysis tools for argumentation, OVA ova.arg.tech, and the only automated system for grading argument analysis, argugrader.com) as well as public-facing systems such as the Evidence Toolkit (arg.tech/evtk) which was deployed into thousands of secondary schools in partnership with the BBC. We provide open infrastructure for datasets of argument and debate (aifdb.org) based on the AIF standard for argument representation and knowledge engineering.

Most recently, we have also be working to provide an open framework for argument mining, one of the most demanding challenges in AI natural language processing today. The engineering of these tools and systems has been driven by theory coming from philosophy and linguistics but is aimed at translating basic research and delivering it robustly to large audiences.

As a part of a research project funded by Volkswagen Stiftung, we are looking to appoint a research assistant to work on argument mining and its role in deliberation. Appointment level will be commensurate with experience.

The Deliberation Laboratory

If a core element of European integration is to create a single, deliberative, public sphere, then recent events suggest that the project is set to fail. Far from a Europe-wide sphere of “public reason”, social media such as Twitter or comments on news sites suggest a growing crisis: especially when it comes to matters of identity, users repeatedly attack each other in highly emotional terms, with no sensitivity to differences across cultures, focusing on what divides people, not what unites them. By developing a virtual moderator that can detect the different cultural signals of disagreement and conflict, we are able to test the conditions under which citizens and groups evaluate what they see as trustworthy and believable in online communication. This moderator is created in Deliberation Laboratory (DeLab), a transformative online experimentation environment, that will allow us to explore the nature, causes, and consequences of citizens’ perceptions in public, online dialogue across languages. We focus on the Aristotelian rhetorical triad – logos (logic), ethos (speaker character), pathos (emotion) – as each of these rhetorical strategies have been shown to shape citizens’ perceptions. We then take DeLab into the wild with a conversational AI intervention system that enhances constructive, reasonable and responsible engagement on social media.

For more information see www.arg.tech/SSEN0325

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Recipient: Chris Reed
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