The first XCI2017 workshop co-organised by Chris Reed and Martin Peirera Ferina took place in early September during the INLG2017. The multidisciplinary event saw scientists from philosophy, computatinal linguistic and computer science take part generating an interesting and fruitful discussion. In addition to four presentations, we had an invited talk by Jose Alonso, a well-known researcher in the field of Computational Intelligence. We are delighted that the work concluded with a commitment from all participants to work together in this new and challenging area in the development of Artificial Intelligence.
Council of Coaches (Couch) is a three year European Horizon-2020 project which has just started this month at ARG-tech (€475,500 to Dundee, €3.7M total). Couch is an international collaboration between Universities and companies from the Netherlands (the coordinating partner), Belgium, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Spain and France. The project introduces a radically new virtual coaching concept based on multiple autonomous, embodied virtual coaches, which form together a personal council that coaches older adults towards a healthy lifestyle. Each coach has their own expertise, personality and style of coaching. They might not always agree with each other, but they all share a single goal: to support the user across every aspect of well-being, including physical, social, cognitive and mental support. Within Dundee the project is led by Alison Pease, with PDRA Mark Snaith and PhD student Dominic de Franco (Arg-tech), and consultants Deborah Wake and Nicolas Conway (School of Medicine). Couch will combine state of the art 3D Virtual Avatars with language and reasoning technology and apply this to the area of lifestyle and behavior change coaching.
This week we welcome Dominic DeFranco who joins us as a new PhD student.
Dom is working on the EU H2020-funded ‘Council of Coaches’ project which
aims to use theories of argumentation and dialogue structure in
particular to contribute to the automation of personalized coaching
Alison has recently secured funding from EPSRC on “Example-driven machine human collaboration in mathematics”, and work has now begun. In this project she will build on investigations into example-use in mathematics, and employ third party model generators, to design and build a system which can interface to online mathematical conversations. This will draw together theories of argumentation, automated reasoning systems, and ethnographical, cognitive and philosophical studies of how people do mathematics. The prototype system will be evaluated by running it on mathematical conversations in real-time, and seeing, by a variety of measures, whether mathematicians regard it as useful, and whether they are prepared to interact directly with it. The project (EP/P017320/1) will run from May, 2017 – October, 2018.
Many congratulations to Mathilde Janier, who today successfully defended her PhD thesis on Dialogical Dynamics and Argumentative Structures in Dispute Mediation Discourse. She was examined by Prof. Thomas Gordon from the University of Potsdam and Fraunhofer FOKUS, and by Dr. Alison Pease from Dundee.
We are delighted to welcome Brian Plüss to the ARG-tech team. Brian joins us as Postdoctoral Research Associate to take part in the Augmented Deliberative Democracy (ADD-up) project. Funded by the Volkswagen Foundation, between 2017 and 2020, Brian will combine argumentation mining, analyses and visualisations to augment complex public deliberations in real time, working in collaboration with researchers in linguistics and political communication from the University of Konstanz and the University of Goettingen, Germany.
Before joining ARG-tech, Brian was Research Associate at The Open University’s Knowledge Media Institute, working in the EPSRC-funded Election Debate Visualisation project, in collaboration with researchers in Political Communication and Design from the University of Leeds. Brian has a PhD from The Open University’s Computing and Communications Department for the thesis “A Computational Model of Non-Cooperation in Natural Language Dialogue”. In his doctoral research, he specialised in analysing and modelling non-cooperation in political interviews. Before this, he obtained a MSc in computer science at the National University of Rosario, Argentina. He has carried out research on virtual human systems at USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies in Los Angeles, California, and on software architectures and formal methods in Portugal, Argentina and Finland. From 2001 to 2004, he worked as a software engineer for ATX Software in Lisbon, Portugal.
We are delighted to welcome Debela Tesfaye to the ARG-tech team. Debela joins us from the University of Addis Ababa where he worked remotely with Michael Zock and others on meronyms, synonyms and other syntactic and semantic relations. He will be working as a PhD student on the topic of argument mining.
Martin Pereira Farina and Chris Reed are organising a workshop on explainable computational intelligence that aims to connect natural language generation, fuzzy systems and previously impenetrable AI systems that are typically seen only as black boxes.
The XCI2017 workshop will be held at INLG 2017 in Santiago de Compostela on 4 September 2017 and the deadline for submissions is 2 June 2017.
We’re delighted to welcome Prof. Randy Harris from the University of Waterloo who is co-leading one of the foremost groups in computational rhetoric, RhetFIg. Randy will be delivering a talk on Thursday, 23rd March at 10am in the lab (QMB2.15), entitled “Chiastic figures and how they argue”. All welcome as usual.
In a week of good news, funding has just been announced for two new projects in ARG-tech. €290k has been awarded to the group by the VW foundation for a collaboration with the University of Konstanz to fund the appointment of Brian Pluss under the guidance of Katarzyna Budzynska and Chris Reed to work on Augmented Deliberative Democracy (ADD-up). Alison Pease has secured a further £125k from EPSRC for a project on Example-driven machine-human collaboration in mathematics. The project aims to develop mixed-initiative mathematics in which multiple parties, both human and machine, collaborate in order to produce novel research mathematics. Both projects will start in 2017.