Promoting the Public Understanding of Artificial Intelligence


Description of impact

Computational Linguistics research at Aberdeen concentrates on Natural Language Generation (NLG), an area of Artificial Intelligence. NLG raises difficult issues about what makes a text effective. This case study explains how our Computing Science department has brought these issues to the general public, aiming to improve public understanding of, and enthusiasm for, Artificial Intelligence. This has been achieved through two projects, targeting different sections of the public. The Joking Computer project explains the mechanisms behind verbal humour, allowing non-scientists to engage with computer programs that generate puns. The online Joking Computer has received 200,000 hits, and allows users to contribute data to the research by rating its jokes. The second project targets a more sophisticated section of the public in a book entitled Not Exactly: in Praise of Vagueness. This book, which builds on years of research on Natural Language Generation, illuminates the role of vagueness in science and computing and has triggered worldwide debate on the role of precision in scientific, social, and political discourse, meeting with an enthusiastic reception. To date it has sold well over 6,000 copies.
Impact statusOpen