Hamilton Institute Seminar

Wednesday, November 29, 2023 - 13:00 to 14:00
Hamilton Institute Seminar room (317), 3rd Floor Eolas Building, North Campus, Maynooth University

Virtual participation: Zoom details available here

Speaker: Professor Tony Veale, University College Dublin

Title: "Bursting the Filter Bubble: From Echo Chambers to Speech Balloons with Data-Driven Comics"

Abstract: Online debate around divisive topics has become increasingly fractured, leading to the emergence of “echo chambers” in which disputants communicate almost exclusively with those who hold compatible views. To inhibit the growth of echo chambers and expose disputants to both sides of an argument – in ways that encourage dialogue across the divide – we aim to automate the generation of creative interventions into otherwise insular online debates. On highly echoic platforms such as Twitter, bot-driven interventions run contrary to best practices, and may be reported as an abuse of the system. However, passive interventions can instead use story generation to dramatise an ongoing debate. If the stories so generated are engaging and balanced, and are aptly labeled with attested hashtags, they can draw users to a bot’s content, thus avoiding any need for a bot to elbow its content into a live conversation. The Excelsior system, as described here, aims for amusing, even-handed engagement by packaging its data-driven stories as comic strips which integrate two sides of any argument into a single visual intervention.

Biography: Tony Veale is the chair of the international Association for Computational Creativity, and the author of several monographs on the topic of creative language generation, including Exploding The Creativity Myth: The Computational Foundations of Linguistic Creativity (Bloomsbury, 2012), Twitterbots: Making Machines That Make Meaning (with Mike Cook; MIT Press, 2017) and Your Wit Is My Command: Building AIs with a Sense of Humor (MIT Press, 2021). He has researched the crossover between AI and language for three decades in academia and in industry. He teaches Computational Creativity and Generative AI as an associate professor in UCD's school of Computer Science.