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 Budzynska, Annette Hautli-Janisz, John 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 (German, English), and the NDR (German).
If 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.