In the heart of Brussels, under a blanket of snow, a two-day project meeting for TITAN took place last week at VRT, bringing together partners dedicated to fostering critical thinking against disinformation via AI-powered chatbot technology. The first meeting of 2024 was primarily focused on pushing forward the development of the TITAN solution by making key decisions around the use of dialogues and the integration of ethical measures surrounding critical thinking assessments, and dialogue validation.
For readers new to the TITAN project, our research and innovation initiative is leveraging the power of AI to empower users critical thinking abilities in identifying and combating the dissemination of disinformation. A small snapshot of what was discussed is below:
Day 1: Delving into Ethical Considerations
The meeting kicked off with an in-depth exploration of the ethical landscape surrounding critical thinking assessment. Participants engaged in thought-provoking discussions on the responsibility that comes with developing AI tools designed to enhance users' critical thinking abilities. Could the snow-covered backdrop of Brussels serve as a metaphor for the pristine ethical standards the TITAN team aim to uphold?
A significant portion of the first day was dedicated to refining the validation and clustering processes for the chatbot's dialogues. The team delved into the intricacies of ensuring that TITAN's responses align with ethical guidelines and contribute positively to users' cognitive development. The discussions also touched upon the challenges of striking the right balance between the freedom of expression and preventing the spread of harmful content. NKSR-Demokritis shared that the first feedback from user testing was that the dialogues are too long and that we need to explore options around making them more manageable.
A breakthrough moment occurred as the team decided to incorporate inoculation theory into TITAN's dialogue strategy. This innovative approach involves preemptively exposing users to weakened versions of misleading information, effectively inoculating them against future encounters. The application of this theory aims to strengthen users' critical thinking abilities and enhance their resilience against disinformation.
The downside of innoculation theory, according to some, is also the fact it presents people with a lot of disinformation. However, most partners believed inoculation and critical thinking could work well together - that micro-doses of dissemination will teach and upskill people and could help form some kind of gamification approach for engagement.
Day 2: A Visit from our Project Officer and a Call for Innovation
On the second day, the TITAN team was honoured by the presence of Peter Freiss, our project officer, who provided valuable feedback from the previous year's review meeting. Encouraging the team to accelerate their efforts, Freiss stressed the importance of innovation and urged us to expedite the development of a demo showcasing TITAN's capabilities.
Freiss also highlighted the relevance of TITAN in the context of impending important elections. He emphasised the opportunity to tailor our chatbot's capabilities to address the unique challenges surrounding electoral disinformation. The team embraced this call to action, recognising the pivotal role TITAN could play in fostering informed public decision-making during critical political events.
The meeting concluded with the team exploring the idea of benchmarking micro-lessons to ensure the effectiveness of TITAN's educational interventions. These initiatives aimed to set industry standards for responsible AI development in the realm of critical thinking enhancement.
Whilst our meeting at VRT marked a significant step forward in our innovation journey towards empowering users with enhanced critical thinking abilities, its clear from the crucial feedback received that we still have a long way to go to realise our ambitions. However, our unique position in the innovation world as one of the only projects focused on using AI to raise critical thinking for countering disinformation fuels us with the energy and passion to strive forward and make a meaningful impact in the fight against misinformation.