Image source: GRA 0115, William Augustus Brewer Bookplate Collection, Special Collections, University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press, Newark, Delaware.
Opening Up Minds: engaging dialogue generated from argument maps
Team Paul Piwek (PI at project lead organisation) and Jacopo Amidei, The Open University
Svetlana Stoyanchev, Cambridge Research Laboratory, Toshiba Europe
Tom Stafford and Lotty Brand, University of Sheffield
Andreas Vlachos and Youmna Farag, University of Cambridge
Funder Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC Grant EP/T024666/1)

The project will develop a dialogue system interface to existing databases of the arguments surrounding controversial topics such as Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union? or Should all humans be vegan? The ultimate aim is to help people pass the Ideological Turing Test.

Users will be able to have a Moral Maze style chat with the dialogue system. Moral Maze is a longrunning popular BBC 4 Radio programme in which a panel discusses a controversial topic with the help of witnesses and a host who chairs the conversation. The dialogue system consists of a panel of Argumentation Bots (ArguBots) who present arguments for or against the topic under discussion (the pro and con ArguBots), a host ArguBot and a witness ArguBot (that can provide detailed evidence). The user is invited to join the panel and voice their views on the topic under discussion. Thus the user can explore what they thought and what others thought about the controversial topic.

An important part of the projects will be to evaluate the effects on people's appreciation of the complexity of debate and attendant ability to comprehend the world from other people's point of view or perspective.

Social media and public engagement Paul talked with Richard Foster-Fletcher about the project in Episode 39 of the Boundless podcast. Tom's blogpost describes the project, especially the evaluation workpackage led by Sheffield. See our short video for British Science Week 2022, presented by Youmna, Lotty and Paul. Follow us on twitter @OpeningUpMinds

Amidei, Jacopo; Piwek, Paul and Stoyanchev, Svetlana (2021). QTMM2012c+: A Queryable Empirically- Grounded Resource of Dialogue with Argumentation. In: 5th Workshop on Advances in Argumentation in Artificial Intelligence, 29 Nov 2021, Online event.

Brand, Charlotte O., Stafford, Tom (2022) Using dialogues to increase positive attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccines in a vaccine-hesitant UK population, Royal Society Open Science, 9(10), doi:10.1098/rsos.220366

Brand, C. O., Brady, D., & Stafford, T. (2023, June 27). The Ideological Turing Test: a behavioural measure of open-mindedness and perspective-taking.

Farag, Youmna; Brand, Charlotte; Amidei, Jacopo; Piwek, Paul; Stafford, Tom; Stoyanchev, Svetlana and Vlachos, Andreas (2022). Opening up Minds with Argumentative Dialogues. In: Findings of EMNLP (Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing).

Events and Presentations

Paul is giving a Keynote talk on Generative AI, Opening Up Minds and Argument Mapping at ALLT 2024, March 1-3 2024.

On the 14th of July 2023, Youmna Farag presented Opening up Minds with Argumentative Dialogues at the Workshop on Social Influence in Conversations (co-located with ACL 2023).

On 10th and 11th of June 2023 Paul Piwek (with support from David McDade) presented on Polarisation in society - can digital thinking tools help create understanding? at the Glasgow Science Festival, Kelvingrove Museum Family Days.

5th of May 2023 Tom Stafford gave a keynote at EACL2023, Sixth Workshop on Fact Extraction and VERification: "Faith in Reason: Prospects for fact checking in a world of bias"

Lotty's written evidence is quoted and cited multiple time in the House of Commons Science, Innovation and Technology Committee's report on Reproducibility and Research Integrity. The report also cites the written evidence by Tom and Lotty on Commercial involvement in academic publishing is key to research reliability and should face greater public scrutiny.

The Opening Up Minds project and the Cambridge Language Sciences (Incubator Fund) supported the Deliberation for Good (D4G) workshop in Cambridge. Paul gave a project presentation and Youmna demonstrated the ArguBot technology. (14 October 2022)

Paul and Svetlana presented a poster on the Opening Up Minds project at the Royal Society event on Cognitive artificial intelligence. (26 September 2022)

Tom gave an invited lecture on How arguments work at the School of Collective Intelligence, Mohammed VI Polytechnic University, Morocco. (4 November 2022)

Andreas presented, among other work, the Opening Up Minds project at the Schloss Dagstuhl Seminar Towards a Unified Model of Scholarly Argumentation (23-28 October 2022)

Andreas gave an invited talk on Fact-checking as a conversation at the ACL workshop Constraint 22: Second Workshop on Combating Online Hostile Posts in Regional Languages during Emergency Situation (May 27, 2022).

Svetlana participated in a panel on Harnessing the benefits of AI: In support of Women's History Month at Women in AI Ireland (24 March 2022)

Paul participated in a Virtual Live Q&A session at the BT British Science Week Robotics event and Paul, Lotty and Youmna feature in the ArguBots: A brief introduction video for also for the BT STEM in Action: Robotics day (18 March 2022)

Lotty and Tom contributed to the House of Common Science and Technology Committee inquiry on reproducibility and research integrity: Commercial involvement in academic publishing is key to research reliability and should face greater public scrutiny and Written evidence submitted by Dr Brand. (December 2021)

Duration January 2021 - July 2023
Advisory board Mevan Babakar, News and Information Credibility Lead at Google
Richard Foster-Fletcher, MK-AI, Boundless podcast, Visiting Lecturer & Speaker on Responsible AI
David Mair, Head of Unit, Science Advice to Policy, EC Joint Research Centre
Prof. Chris Reed, Centre for Argument Technology, University of Dundee
Pip Willcox, Head of research, National Archives
Inquiries For inquiries about the project, contact .

Last updated 17 July 2023