Socratic dialogue, named after the philosopher Socrates, is a method of critical questioning and examination aimed at exploring complex ideas and reaching a deeper understanding of the truth. The method begins from the standpoint of ignorance (agnoia) and proceeds through doubting and questioning (aporia) to an examination of good life and virtue (arete), as well as the logical refutation (elenchus) of unjustified claims.
In the early 20th century, German philosopher and educator Leonard Nelson proposed the use of the Socratic method for group dialogical philosophy. He suggested that a critical inquiry in the Socratic way about issues and questions of everyday life leads to self-understanding and an honest, harmonious agreement between people.
In modern approaches of the Socratic method, individuals learn to think critically and evaluate judgmentally common held beliefs by examining inherent and even unobserved contradictions, biases, and stereotypes in light of different viewpoints and perspectives. Socratic dialogues have been particularly used for educational purposes as well as for the development of critical and creative thinking.
In the context of TITAN’s aim for countering disinformation online, Socratic dialogue can help people to:
Analyse claims: By questioning the sources, evidence, and reasoning behind a claim, people can evaluate the credibility of the information and determine its accuracy
Identify biases: Through questioning, people can identify their own biases and those of the sources of information, which can help to counteract the influence of misinformation.
Encourage critical thinking: By encouraging individuals to think critically and question what they read, Socratic dialogue can help to foster a more informed and discerning online community.
Promote transparency: By examining the sources and motivations behind a claim, people can better understand the context and intent behind the information they encounter, promoting transparency and accountability in the information landscape.
Combining Artificial Intelligence (AI) with Socratic thinking has the potential to bolster these benefits in a number of ways.
Fact checking:AI can be trained to analyse large amounts of information and compare it to credible sources to quickly identify and flag false or misleading claims.
Identifying biases: AI algorithms can analyse and identify patterns in the way information is presented, helping to highlight and counteract biases in information sources.
Recommendation systems:AI can be used to develop recommendation systems that present users with a diverse range of perspectives and information sources, promoting critical thinking and reducing the influence of echo chambers.
Contextual analysis: AI can analyze the context and intent behind information, helping to provide a more nuanced understanding of the motivations behind a given claim.
Content moderation: AI can assist in the moderation of online platforms, automatically identifying and removing false or harmful content, helping to reduce the spread of disinformation.
However, AI does not provide a perfect solution as it can contain biases which can come from the data itself, the algorithm design or human input. The TITAN project recognises that AI is not a perfect solution for countering disinformation, and that human interpretation and oversight is needed and desired to ensure the results don’t have unintended negative consequences, such as exacerbating existing inequalities or even creating new disinformation. TITAN’s vision is not to have AI do the thinking for people, rather to help individuals better think for themselves, to become more critical consumers of information, better equipped to identify and counter disinformation online.
It plans to do support people via an AI-enabled conversational agent. TITAN’s conversational agent will be trained on large amounts of information and be designed to answer questions in a conversational manner, providing the user with real-time support. Using TITAN will help encourage users critical thinking by presenting multiple perspectives and asking users to consider the evidence behind a claim, promoting more informed and discerning decision-making.
The innovation project is in its early stages starting with co-creation workshops. To keep up to date with progress please subscribe for updates at the bottom of the website TITANthinking.eu