Understanding the implications underlying a text is critical to assessing its impact, in particular the social dynamics that may result from a reading of the text. This requires endowing artificial intelligence (AI) systems with pragmatic reasoning, for example to correctly conclude that the statement “Epidemics and cases of disease in the 21st century are “staged”” relates to unfounded conspiracy theories. In this talk, I discuss how shortcomings in the ability of current AI systems to reason about pragmatics present challenges to equitable detection of false or harmful language. I demonstrate how these shortcomings can be addressed by imposing human-interpretable structure on deep learning architectures using insights from linguistics.In the first part of the talk, I describe how adversarial text generation algorithms can be used to improve robustness of content moderation systems. I then introduce a pragmatic formalism for reasoning about harmful implications conveyed by social media text. I show how this pragmatic approach can be combined with generative neural language models to uncover implications of news headlines. I also address the bottleneck to progress in text generation posed by gaps in evaluation of factuality. I conclude by showing how context-aware content moderation can be used to ensure safe interactions with conversational agents.
Saadia Gabriel is a PhD candidate in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington, advised by Prof. Yejin Choi and Prof. Franziska Roesner. Her research revolves around natural language processing and machine learning, with a particular focus on building systems for understanding how social commonsense manifests in text (i.e. how do people typically behave in social scenarios), as well as mitigating spread of false or harmful text (e.g. Covid-19 misinformation). Her work has been covered by a wide range of media outlets like Forbes and TechCrunch. It has also received a 2019 ACL best short paper nomination, a 2019 IROS RoboCup best paper nomination and won a best paper award at the 2020 WeCNLP summit. Prior to her PhD, Saadia received a BA summa cum laude from Mount Holyoke College in Computer Science and Mathematics.