Research group at imec & Vrije Universiteit Brussel


A constructive online debate through AI

Project Description

Rheplus is an AI-powered tool that helps media users share their opinions through online debate, discover those of others, and from there form and adjust their own opinions, resulting in a less polarizing, more constructive social debate. The better citizens get a grip on other citizens’ views and arguments, the less susceptible they will be to fallacies, conspiracy theories and misinformation in their discussions with fellow citizens, online and offline. Rheplus builds on Rhetoric, a prototype developed within the ICON project of the same name to facilitate online debate.

This project extends the tool and associated support in two ways. First, it will allow disinformation, faulty reasoning and conspiracy theories, as well as different views and positions that still fly under the radar in a public debate, to be recognized within online discussions, so that journalists can get a picture of what reasoning is prevalent among their audience and can also address/contextualize/justify it. Editors should also be given the necessary tools and methods to be able to work with the information and engage with it editorially. For example, Rheplus provides a tool and support for news editors to 1) detect and address disinformation circulating among their own audience; 2) make the debate that news users are having on their site/in their app more transparent and use it as a source for journalistic stories such as disagreement checks.

Second, Rheplus will provide participants with an accessible way to understand different arguments in a debate and provide tips on how to respond resiliently to disinformation and debate more constructively themselves. Thus, Rheplus will become a tool for news users to 1) create a safe environment for constructive debate among news users in an editorial context, 2) gain insight into pro and con arguments within a debate in an approachable way 2) learn to recognize fallacies in others and themselves.