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Kevin Ashley: "What's in an [Ethical|Policy|Legal] Argument that a Computer Can Use?" (Ethics Discussion Group Lecture)

Thursday, October 2, 2014
4:00 AM
1171 Angell Hall (Tanner Library)


This talk will examine some efforts to represent arguments about ethics problems in a form that computers can manipulate for various tasks, including instruction and information retrieval.  These efforts will be contrasted with recent developments in information extraction from text for purposes of question-answering, namely IBM's recently-announced Debater program, an offshoot of its Jeopardy Game-winning Watson program.  For topics such as "The sale of violent
video games to minors should be banned," Debater scans millions of articles, detects sentences containing relevant claims, assesses their polarity, and constructs arguments pro and con. Some possibilities will be discussed for a fruitful synthesis of methods.

Speaker Biography

Dr. Kevin Ashley holds interdisciplinary appointments as a faculty member of the Graduate Program in Intelligent Systems at the University of Pittsburgh, a Senior Scientist at the Learning Research and Development Center, a Professor of Law, and Adjunct Professor of Computer Science. His goals are to contribute to Artificial Intelligence (AI) research on case-based and analogical reasoning, argumentation and explanation and to develop instructional and information retrieval systems for professionals in case-based domains such as law and ethics. Currently, his students and he are pursuing research projects in automatically classifying statutory and legal
case texts, modeling the uses of values in case-based legal reasoning, and teaching students to plan written arguments with argument-diagramming and computer-supported peer review.

He received a B.A. in philosophy (magna cum laude) from Princeton University in 1973, J.D. (cum laude) from Harvard Law School in 1976, and Ph.D. in computer science in 1988 from the University of Massachusetts where he held an IBM Graduate Research Fellowship. For his Ph.D. he developed an AI CBR system, HYPO, which reasons by analogy to past legal cases, makes arguments about legal fact situations and poses hypothetical cases. MIT Press / Bradford Books published his book based on his dissertation entitled Modeling Legal Argument: Reasoning with Cases and Hypotheticals. In April, 1990, the National Science Foundation selected Professor Ashley as a Presidential Young Investigator, and in 2002 he was selected as a
Fellow of the American Association of Artificial Intelligence. From June, 1988 through July, 1989, he was a Visiting Scientist at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, New York. For four years prior to his computer science graduate work, he was an associate
attorney at White & Case, a large Wall Street law firm.