Welcoming Ray Becker

Posted by chris on December 15, 2021
Ray Becker

We’re delighted to welcome Ray Becker who joins us as a Research Software Engineer. Ray comes to ARG-tech with a background in various types of statistical analysis of climate conditions and water management systems, and in machine learning algorithms for sentiment analysis. He has also worked on co-speech gestures, language comprehension, and event structure at universities in the US, Canada, and Germany, and joins us now to work on Argument Web infrastructure.

Why Argument Technology? Stephen Fry explains.

Posted by chris on October 2, 2021

We’ve been working with Pindex on a new video that explains the context and motivation for a lot of work in argument technology. Stephen Fry narrates, opening with a discussion of some of the big societal challenges including conspiracy theories and fake news. The video then explores the role argument technology could play in tackling these challenges, covering foundational research in areas such as argument mining, plus some signal successes such as IBM’s Project Debater, and the vision of the Argument Web including practical applications such as Reason Checking.

The video is out now on youtube:

Congratulations to Dr Gemechu

Posted by chris on September 15, 2021

Many congratulations to Debela Gemechu who successfully passed his PhD viva today subject to minor corrections. His thesis, Argument Mining: Representation, contextualization and structuring was examined by Prof. Dr. Iryna Gurevych from UKP at Darmstadt and Prof. Stephen McKenna at Dundee. Debela is continuing to work with us as Industrial Fellow in Residence.

Kamila Gorska and Alex Marcoci join ARG-tech

Posted by Brian Plüss on July 8, 2021

This week we welcome Kamila Gorska and Alex Marcoci to the group. Kamila joins us to study for a PhD in automated argument processing. Alex joins as a postdoc working on Trajectories of Conflict in the context of debate at the UN Security Council.

ARG-tech keeps growing!

€1.5m for a ‘Deliberation Laboratory’

Posted by chris on December 15, 2020

Hot on the heels of the recent announcement that we’ve secured AHRC-DFG funding to work with the UN Security Council tracking ‘Trajectories of Conflict’ we’ve just learnt that our four year programme to work on models of deliberation has been funded by Volkswagen Stiftung. In the 4-year, €1.5m project, we will work with our partners, Valentin Gold at Göttingen, Annette Hautli-Janisz at Konstanz, Katarzyna Budzynska at Warsaw Politechnika, and John Parkinson at Maastricht to develop a “Deliberation Laboratory” that allows us to explore new interventions in deliberative democracy settings.

Funding from AHRC to work with the UN Security Council

Posted by chris on November 26, 2020

We’ve just heard that we’ve won funding under the extremely competitive AHRC-DFG Anglo-German bilateral programme in the Arts & Humanities in collaboration with Manfred Stede‘s team at Potsdam University. We’re going to be spending the next three years working with the UN and in particular looking at how conflicts evolve in the Security Council. The goal is to improve our understanding of how language reflects trajectories of conflict, and use that understanding both to deliver insight to geopolitical analysts and to make the workings of the UNSC more accessible to the general public. 

Reason-Checking Fake News

Posted by Brian Plüss on November 12, 2020
Cover of CACM 11/2020 Vol.63 No.11

Our work with the BBC over 2018-2019 focused on helping school pupils to identify fake news by putting news articles under a critical thinking microscope. The Evidence Toolkit was rolled out to over 3,000 schools and was the first publicly deployed application to rely upon argument mining. Our work is described in an article just out in this month’s Communications of the ACM.

Congratulations to Dr Lawrence

Posted by Mark on September 14, 2020

Many congratulations to John Lawrence, who has successfully defended his PhD thesis on Explainable Argument Mining. He was examined by Prof. Manfred Stede from Potsdam University, Prof. Rob Gaizauskas from The University of Sheffield, and Prof. Manuel Trucco from Dundee. John is staying in the group as a permanent lecturer.

ARG-tech at COMMA 2020

Posted by Mark on September 7, 2020

This week sees the Eighth International Conference on Computational Models of Argument (COMMA 2020) and ARG-tech is well-represented at the main conference and the workshops.

COMMA 2020

Chris Reed will deliver the opening invited keynote on Argument Technology from Philosophy to Phone, charting 20 years of research into Argument Technology.

Abstract: Computational models of argument have vast potential to transform human reasoning and decision-making wherever it occurs – taking theories rooted in philosophy, developing algorithms in data science, natural language processing and AI, and engineering solutions that could end up on a phone in everyone’s pocket. Fulfilling that potential, however, is enormously challenging. Sometimes, what’s required is overhauling our most fundamental theories to accommodate real world phenomena: arguments in the real world, for example, most typically occur in multi-party contexts, so new theories have had to be developed to account for and handle dialogical, dialectical and interactional aspects of argumentation, whilst still supporting formally well-understood phenomena such as abstraction and acceptability, audiences and values, lexical semantics and argument structure.

Papers and demonstrations

Mark Snaith. An Argument-based Framework for Selecting Dialogue Move Types and Content

Read the paper on the IOS Press website

Rory Duthie, John Lawrence, Chris Reed, Jacky Visser and Dimitra Zografistou. Navigating Arguments and Hypotheses at Scale.

Read the extended abstract on the IOS Press website

Matt Foulis, Jacky Visser and Chris Reed. Dialogical Fingerprinting of Debaters.

Read the extended abstract on the IOS Press website

Iwan Ittermann and Brian Plüss. PEOPLES: From Private Responses to Messages to Depolarisation Nudges in Two-Party Adversarial Online Talk.

Read the extended abstract on the IOS Press website

Mark Snaith, John Lawrence, Alison Pease and Chris Reed. A Modular Platform for Argument and Dialogue.

Read the extended abstract on the IOS Press website

ArgVis 2020 workshop (co-organised by Brian Plüss and Rory Duthie)

Matt Foulis, Jacky Visser and Chris Reed. Interactive Visualisation of Debater Identification and Characteristics.

Summer School on Argumentation (SSA 2020)

Chris Reed will deliver an invited talk on Bridging the gap from linguistic to computational models of argument.

Abstract: One of the ways in which the COMMA community is composed of different threads of research is the varying extent to which use is made, on the one hand, of linguistic models, and, on the other, of formal techniques. Linguistic models have much to say about what an argument is, about how it is composed, and how it is situated in the world. Formal (both structured and abstract) models focus instead on a much narrower conception of what an argument is, and much more on one argument’s interactions with others. We have learnt that the Argument Interchange Format is an effective way of delivering data from the linguistic world and delivering computation back from the formal world, yet AIF on its own cannot handle real world data directly. This talk will summarise Inference Anchoring Theory, a technique that ties together discursive activity with formal structure, all of which can be represented in AIF and transported across the bridge to the rich formal and computational techniques.