We are very happy to have started the new project Deliberation Laboratory (DeLab - https://delab.uni-goettingen.de) in August 2021 funded by the VolkswagenFoundation within the funding line Artificial Intelligence and the Society of the Future. The project is an interdisciplinary collaboration between Kasia BudzynskaAnnette Hautli-JaniszJohn Parkinson, and Chris Reed. For more information, please either see the website or the press releases by the VolkswagenFoundation (German), the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (GermanEnglish), and the NDR (German)

Logo DeLabIf one of the core elements of the European integration project is to create a single, deliberative, public sphere, then recent events suggest that project is set to fail. Far from a Europe-wide sphere of "public reason", recent crisis becomes most evident on social media like Twitter: especially when it comes to matters of identity, users repeatedly attack each other in highly emotional terms, focussing on what divides people, not what unites them. With Deliberation Laboratory (DeLab), we develop a transformative online testing environment that allows us to explain the nature, causes, and consequences of citizens’ perceptions in deliberative public, online dialogue across languages. By developing a virtual moderator that can follow different cultural scripts, we are able to test the conditions under which citizens and groups evaluate what they see as trustworthy and believable in online communication. In particular, we focus on the Aristotle’s rhetorical triad – logos, ethos, pathos – as each of these elements have shown to shape citizens’ perceptions. With DeLab, we propose a conversational AI intervention system supporting constructive online engagement within the Tweet limits of 280 characters and beyond.

The project Augmented Deliberative Democracy (ADD-up): Enhancing Large-scale Public Arbitrations in Real Time was funded 04/2017 – 12/2021 by the Volkswagen Foundation. ADD-up promotes interdisciplinary research in the field of computational social science. Principal investigators are Prof. Dr. Annette Hautli-Janisz (General and Computational Linguistics), Dr. Brian Plüss (Argumentation Mining and Visualization), and Dr. Valentin Gold (Political Science).

The aim of this project is to capitalize on the increasing digitalisation of society for advancing techniques of participatory democracy. For instance, analyses of sport events broadcast on TV (e.g. football games) are presented to the viewer by way of augmented reality, a technique which is used to enhance the experience of the viewer with computer-supplied data. The aim of the present project is to automatically monitor and enhance large-scale participatory processes in a similar way. Through an interdisciplinary collaboration between Political Science (University of Göttingen, Germany), Linguistics (University of Konstanz, Germany - now Passau University) and Computer Science (University of Dundee, Scotland), we will develop ADD-up, an innovative system for Augmented Deliberative Democracy (ADD).

More details on the technical framework can be found at https://addup.valentingold.de.

There are also two demonstration videos available at https://addup.valentingold.de/demo/, e.g. a time lapse video of a VisArgue Fracking debate: 

Previously, we have published a prototype in collaborative work with VALIDA, see the video on Youtube: https://youtu.be/LhoLLcE9Vlw. Some of our ideas and potentials are demonstrated (in German) at https://tvduell.valentingold.de.

The VisArgue project was an interdisciplinary collaboration of political science, linguistics and information science at the University of Konstanz (principal investigators: Prof. Miriam Butt, PhDProf. Dr. Katharina Holzinger and Prof. Dr. Daniel Keim), funded by the eHumanities initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) from 2012 to 2016. Its main goal was the development of an automated measurement tool for the quality of deliberative communication in political discourse

In the project we used an innovative combination of methods from different areas of research, including

  • a theoretical tenet of deliberative communication originating from political science,
  • an automatic and linguistically-motivated annotation of discourse patterns relevant in deliberative communication
  • a shallow, statistical analysis of the discourse to detect common patterns in negotiations and
  • the development and employment of visualization tools to identify patterns of communication at-a-glance

For a demo version of the system go to http://visargue.inf.uni-konstanz.de.


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