Natural-Language Multi-Agent Simulations of Argumentative Opinion Dynamics

04/14/2021 ∙ by Gregor Betz, et al. ∙ 0

This paper develops a natural-language agent-based model of argumentation (ABMA). Its artificial deliberative agents (ADAs) are constructed with the help of so-called neural language models recently developed in AI and computational linguistics. ADAs are equipped with a minimalist belief system and may generate and submit novel contributions to a conversation. The natural-language ABMA allows us to simulate collective deliberation in English, i.e. with arguments, reasons, and claims themselves – rather than with their mathematical representations (as in formal models). This paper uses the natural-language ABMA to test the robustness of formal reason-balancing models of argumentation [Maes Flache 2013, Singer et al. 2019]: First of all, as long as ADAs remain passive, confirmation bias and homophily updating trigger polarization, which is consistent with results from formal models. However, once ADAs start to actively generate new contributions, the evolution of a conservation is dominated by properties of the agents *as authors*. This suggests that the creation of new arguments, reasons, and claims critically affects a conversation and is of pivotal importance for understanding the dynamics of collective deliberation. The paper closes by pointing out further fruitful applications of the model and challenges for future research.



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