Elizabeth Clark: Creative Writing with AI

As part of our AI in Your Community series, I spoke to Elizabeth Clark, who won the Amazon Alexa Prize for her work with Sounding Board, a social bot. Elizabeth is studying natural language processing and working on tools for collaborative storytelling.

Elizabeth Clark

Tara Chklovski: Tell me a little bit about what you’re working on.

Elizabeth Clark: Very broadly I’m working on natural language processing, so looking at how language and computers interact, and helping computers process language – either written text or speech. More specifically I’ve been looking at collaborative writing systems, which give people support and offer suggestions to them as they write. I’m exploring how we can build models that will generate suggestions that are helpful to people as they try to write, say, a short story. There are different levels to offer help to people as they write. You could point out grammatical errors or spelling mistakes, or you could offer suggestions about structure. The type of suggestions we’re interested in are focused on the actual content for your story.

Our goal is to look at what type of suggestions people want, and determine how we can give them suggestions that are coherent with the story that has come so far, but are still creative and surprising – all to try and spark their creativity as they write. As for what are useful suggestions, we’ve found that it really depends on who is using the system. Different people want different things out of these suggestions. Some people really like silly suggestions, that have these unexpected elements, and they’ll work really hard to try to find a way to work it into their story, embracing it as a challenge…where other people know exactly what they want to write and if the suggestion isn’t in line with that, then they will just delete it and write their own story. There does seem to be a tradeoff between the level of unexpectedness of the suggestion and how coherent it is with what has come before.

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Natural Language Processing and Bias: An Interview with Maarten Sap

As part of the AI in your Community series, I recently spoke with Maarten Sap, a PhD student at the University of Washington. Maarten is interested in natural language processing, and social science applications of AI. Maarten is also the 2017 winner of the Alexa Prize, an Amazon competition to further conversational artificial intelligence. Maarten […]

Virtual humans and decision-making: A conversation with Stacy Marsella

As part of our ongoing AI In your Community series, I talked to Stacy Marsella, professor in the College of Computer and Information Science at Northeastern University and the Psychology Department. Professor Marsella’s research is grounded in computational modeling of human cognition, emotion, and social behavior as well as evaluation of those models. Tara Chklovski: […]

Machine Learning and combining common sense with data: An Interview with Fabio Cozman

As part of our AI in Your Community project, I spoke to Fabio Gagliardi Cozman, who is a Full Professor at the Engineering School  at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. He  works in the Department of Mechatronics and Mechanical Systems, in the Decision Making Lab, which focuses on Artificial intelligence. Tara Chklovski: Tell us […]

Game Theory and Machine Learning: An Interview with Fei Fang

As part of our AI in Your Community series, I sat down with Fei Fang, an Assistant Professor in the Institute for Software Research in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. She works on game theory and machine learning, researching the strategic behavior of multiple agents, which has applications to many societal challenges […]

Going beyond just clicks and views: An interview with Dr. Elisabeth Lex

As part of our ongoing AI In your Community series, I sat down with Dr. Elisabeth Lex, Assistant Professor at Graz University of Technology and head of Social Computing at Know-Center.

Dr. Elisabeth Lex

Tara Chklovski:What problem or area of research are you working on?

Elisabeth Lex: I’m working on a number of different projects at the moment! One of those projects is improving recommender systems. We look at how humans behave on certain tasks, and then design algorithms that are more effective and personalized. I like this field of research a lot because it’s very interdisciplinary.

Another project I’m working on looks at patterns of collaboration within networks to identify the factors that can improve collaboration, or make it more difficult. We’re also studying the effect of social status on how opinions spread over a network.

Finally, another of my research topics is open science. We want to open up the scientific process, the ivory tower of academia so all people can benefit from scientific research — not just the researchers through their publications.

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The General AI Challenge: An Interview with Marek Rosa

Tara Chklovski: Thanks for doing this. Can you tell me a bit about the area you’re working in and what types of problems you’re looking to solve? Marek Rosa: I have two areas: One is computer game development and the other is AI.  Regarding AI, my interest lies in trying to develop general artificial intelligence […]

A new way of doing AI research — A conversation with François Chollet

TC: How can children learn more about AI? FC: One fun way to get started is to build very simple video games in JavaScript or modify an existing game. There’s a very low barrier to entry and it can be a gateway to learning about AI, because once you have a video game, you can try to […]