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Tackling Fake News


Project Description

Fake news is not always fake. In fact, accusations of fakery are most typically levelled at news that is biased: stories that cherry-pick from the information; that use leading lexicalisation; that emphasise, de-emphasise, exaggerate and focus to advance a partisan position. But then, every news source has to be selective in telling a concise story; particular words must be chosen to effectively communicate the story; emphasis and de-emphasis must be used to simplify the message. So when do brevity, clarity and simplicity become bias? It turns out that theories of reasoning and argument might be what’s required to explain these relationships. Early results from fields as diverse as mathematics, linguistics, philosophy and psychology have shown that relationships between propositions used in human reasoning are far more nuanced than was previously thought, and by unpicking these nuances it becomes possible to engineer software systems that support and enhance human interactions. This project will develop and test the underlying theory to lay the foundation for developing unique solutions for dealing with the challenges presented by fake news.

This project could suit students interested in, and with a background in, any of the following areas: artificial intelligence, cognitive science, theoretical, applied or computational linguistics, social psychology, or philosophy (particularly of mind or language).

The successful candidate will join an interdisciplinary world-leading team working on argument technology – tools to model, enhance and contribute to human reasoning and decision making (www.arg.tech). For a non-technical introduction to argument technology, take a look at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-41010848 or https://www.newsweek.com/artificial-intelligence-argument-debate-752199.

Applicants wishing to apply should submit a one-page covering letter stating your background, academic qualifications (i.e. Masters Degree or Honours at 2:1 or above in a related subject), past research experience and interests, and future career aspirations. Please include a full CV, a copy of your academic transcript and the names and contact details of two referees to Professor Chris Reed, . Please also send any other informal inquiries or queries to the same email address.

Funding Notes

To be eligible for a fully-funded PhD studentship, covering tuition fees and an annual stipend set at UKRI rates, the candidate must have no restrictions on how long they can stay in the UK and have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship (with some further constraint regarding residence for education, further guidance can be found on the EPSRC website). Due to funding requirements the University of Dundee is limited to accepting only UK students.

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