I am an academic who is interested in how people reason, how this reasoning can be captured in formal models and how it can be supported and improved using smart technologies. My main areas of investigation are the computational, philosophical and linguistic aspects of argumentation, linking mathematical models with more natural representations of argument and discourse.
In addition to working on argumentation theory, I am also keen to improve argumentation practice by developing tools that can be used to disseminate and analyse complex reasoning involving lots of data. Examples of application areas are legal & forensic reasoning and opinions on the Web.
I am currently working at the Department of Information and Computing Science of the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands.
During the Innovative Learning Week at the University of Edinburgh, PhD students of the School of Informatics had participants solve a "real" murder case (performed by actors!) using my hybrid theory of stories and arguments. Handouts of the interactive storytelling event can be viewed here.
Aske Plaat, Frank Takes and I are working together with the Dutch police force to develop new smart ways to analyse and make sense of the risks surrounding football fan violence. In addition to developing an interface for the iTable, a multi-touch table that allows for collaborative analysis of multiple data sources (e.g. maps, timelines, social nets), we want to develop a system that, by learning from (open and closed) data, aids the users of the iTable environment by suggesting new links between data (e.g. causal links in scenarios or social relations in networks).
F.J. Bex (2015) An integrated theory of causal scenarios and evidential arguments. Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Law, New York: ACM Press, to appear [PDF]
F.J. Bex, K. Atkinson & T. Bench-Capon (2014) Arguments as a new perspective on character motive in stories. Literary and Linguistic Computing. 29 (4). pp. 467 – 487. [PDF]
F.J. Bex, J. Lawrence, M. Snaith & C. Reed. (2014) ArguBlogging: An Application for the Argument Web. Journal of Web Semantics. 25, pp. 9–15. [PDF]
F.J. Bex, J. Lawrence, M. Snaith & C. Reed. (2013) Implementing the Argument Web. Communications of the ACM 56(10): 66-73. [PDF]
For my dissertation in 2009 (summary), I developed a formal theory that tells judges and police investigators how they can analyse and communicate their reasoning about a case using arguments and stories. This hybrid theory of arguments and stories has been published in book and in journal form.
In a recent paper, Towards an integrated theory of causal scenarios and evidential arguments, I show how stories and arguments can be further integrated by considering stories as arguments. This integrated theory presents a cleaner and simpler mathematical model than the original hybrid theory, and is fully compatible with well-known argumentation frameworks from AI.
The Argument Web is a vision that encompasses new tools, systems, and standards engineered into the heart of the Web to encourage debate, facilitate good argument, and promote a new critical literacy online. Using Semantic Web technology, the Argument Web makes the linked arguments and opinions across the Web searchable, navigable and extendible with a variety of tools, such as OVA for argument annotation, Arvina for engaging with the Argument Web through dialogue, the AIFdb search interface for searching the Argument Web, and the Argublogging tool for connecting to the Argument Web through blogging.
More information about the Argument Web and its accompanying tools can be found on the Argument Interchange website, and in recent papers in Communications of the ACM and the Journal of Web Semantics.
Postmodernism says that we teach people through stories and narratives rather than by giving them facts and rules. But how exactly do these stories persuade us? This is a question I've been trying to answer together with Trevor Bench-Capon. In a recent short paper, Arguing With Stories, we discuss how stories can be used in Arguments From Analogy, and why common narratives like fables and parables are so convincing. Our aim is to design an implementation that, given a story, automatically generates the possible arguments based on this story.
If you're interested in in the place of stories in AI, I'd recommend to keep an eye out for an upcoming special issue of Literary & Linguistic Computing on Computational Models of Narrative, which I co-edit with Mark Finlayson, Pablo Gervás and Deniz Yuret.