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WHIM: The What-If Machine


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This presentation surveys work done on the EC-funded WHIM project (The What-If Machine) by the UCD partner, lead by Tony Veale. WHIM focuses on computational creativity and automated ideation, that is, the construction of autonomous software that can generate, filter and package its own original ideas.

Computational Creativity is the scientific study of the creative potential of machines: to determine whether machines can indeed be creative, it aims to build generative machines and programs that exhibit human-scale creativity.

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WHIM: The What-If Machine

  1. 1. UCD Year One: Idea Generation & Delivery in Let my creepy avatar* guide you on a whimsical tour of UCD’s year of knowledge representation, idea generation, linguistic rendering and automatic tweeting. *Tony Veale
  2. 2. Please excuse my absence, as I am unavoidably elsewhere on UCD business. So kindly bear with these slides as we briefly outline the main contributions of UCD in Y1.
  3. 3. UCD is a major contributor to WP3: Automated Ideation & What-If Scenario Generation In Year One this involves two tasks: T3.1: Taking metaphors seriously & T3.2: Taking jokes seriously Why so serious?
  4. 4. UCD anchors its solutions for both of these tasks in an automated metaphor- generation system. UCD offers its Web Service Metaphor Magnet to commoditize the generation of novel metaphors on an industrial scale.
  5. 5. UCD is also a contributor to WP2: Building wide- coverage Open IE knowledge resources UCD has built and released a KB of more than 5000 causally-chained triples for reasoning about grand themes like Love, War, Religion, Sex, Politics, Art, Science, etc. So for Task T2.2 in Workpackage WP2 …
  6. 6. A chain of causal triples can yield an interesting What-If when it shows how a familiar concept has quite unexpected consequences.
  7. 7. So what counts as an unexpected consequence of a What-If scenario? UCD has focused in Y1 on affective causal chains. A chain is interesting if: 1. A positive concept ultimately causes a negative consequence. 2. A negative concept ultimately causes a positive consequence.
  8. 8. UCD’s ideation engine sits at the heart of our @MetaphorMagnet Twitterbot, which tweets a new hard- boiled metaphor every hour of the day.
  9. 9. So @MetaphorMagnet achieves shock value via causal equivalence: it uses simple reasoning over its knowledge-base to ask: what if two very different concepts lead to the same logical ends?
  10. 10. An opposition between ideas can be used to imagine an opposition between those who hold ideas. @MetaphorMagnet constructs an imaginary debate between these opposing thinkers.
  11. 11. Conflict between and within characters is the key to a psychologically compelling story. Just think of Breaking Bad: a good father and chemistry teacher becomes a murderous drug baron! As @MetaphorMagnet specializes in generating metaphorical pairings that emphasize both the commonalities and the contrasts between ideas, we can turn these pairings into character arcs. W.H.I.M.
  12. 12. businessman millionaire tech geek pauper If we take @MetaphorMagnet’s metaphors seriously, as literal statements of becoming, we obtain What-If scenarios in which our story characters undergo surprising but apt changes. IN
  13. 13. { } Property-level transformations: dashingdrab happymiserable richpoor richskint ostentatiousunpretentious pamperedpoor privilegeddestitute privilegedpoor richbroke richdesperate richdestitute richmiserable spoiledpoor wealthybroke wealthydestitute wealthypoor So what if a millionaire … … became a pauper? @MetaphorMagnet aligns the contrasting properties of both stereotypical representations to estimate the interestingness of an arc.
  14. 14. This approach to ideation in WHIM has recently been covered in New Scientist magazine.
  15. 15. We are currently evaluating the packaging of ideas in @MetaphorMagnet using Crowd-sourcing (against a non- creative baseline @MetaphorMinute).
  16. 16. WHIM also benefits from PROSECCO* events *PROmoting the Scientific Exploration of Computational Creativity (EC Action) PROSECCO’s 2015 Code-Camp will build new bots for ideation & rendering The substantial resources UCD is developing for the camp will feed directly into the WHIM project.
  17. 17. Quickly now, Mr. Veale, what are the fields of your representation? Damn you, Colton! The fields are: name, gender, politics, marital status, specialism, address, vehicle, weapon, rivals, clothing, domain, genre, category, positive qualities and negative qualities!
  18. 18. FIN Year 2 will bring more knowledge (rich resources), more complex ideas, more ground for cross-group collaboration, and deeper stories.