Its impact is drastic and real: Youtube's AIdriven recommendation system would present sports videos for days if one happens to watch a live baseball game on the platform ; email writing becomes much faster with machine learning (ML) based auto-completion ; many businesses have adopted natural language processing based chatbots as part of their customer services . AI has also greatly advanced human capabilities in complex decision-making processes ranging from determining how to allocate security resources to protect airports  to games such as poker  and Go . All such tangible and stunning progress suggests that an "AI summer" is happening. As some put it, "AI is the new electricity" . Meanwhile, in the past decade, an emerging theme in the AI research community is the so-called "AI for social good" (AI4SG): researchers aim at developing AI methods and tools to address problems at the societal level and improve the wellbeing of the society.
Natural language understanding (NLU) of text is a fundamental challenge in AI, and it has received significant attention throughout the history of NLP research. This primary goal has been studied under different tasks, such as Question Answering (QA) and Textual Entailment (TE). In this thesis, we investigate the NLU problem through the QA task and focus on the aspects that make it a challenge for the current state-of-the-art technology. This thesis is organized into three main parts: In the first part, we explore multiple formalisms to improve existing machine comprehension systems. We propose a formulation for abductive reasoning in natural language and show its effectiveness, especially in domains with limited training data. Additionally, to help reasoning systems cope with irrelevant or redundant information, we create a supervised approach to learn and detect the essential terms in questions. In the second part, we propose two new challenge datasets. In particular, we create two datasets of natural language questions where (i) the first one requires reasoning over multiple sentences; (ii) the second one requires temporal common sense reasoning. We hope that the two proposed datasets will motivate the field to address more complex problems. In the final part, we present the first formal framework for multi-step reasoning algorithms, in the presence of a few important properties of language use, such as incompleteness, ambiguity, etc. We apply this framework to prove fundamental limitations for reasoning algorithms. These theoretical results provide extra intuition into the existing empirical evidence in the field.
This paper offers a multi-disciplinary review of knowledge acquisition methods in human activity systems. The review captures the degree of involvement of various types of agencies in the knowledge acquisition process, and proposes a classification with three categories of methods: the human agent, the human-inspired agent, and the autonomous machine agent methods. In the first two categories, the acquisition of knowledge is seen as a cognitive task analysis exercise, while in the third category knowledge acquisition is treated as an autonomous knowledge-discovery endeavour. The motivation for this classification stems from the continuous change over time of the structure, meaning and purpose of human activity systems, which are seen as the factor that fuelled researchers' and practitioners' efforts in knowledge acquisition for more than a century. We show through this review that the KA field is increasingly active due to the higher and higher pace of change in human activity, and conclude by discussing the emergence of a fourth category of knowledge acquisition methods, which are based on red-teaming and co-evolution.
The TriRhenaTech alliance universities and their partners presented their competences in the field of artificial intelligence and their cross-border cooperations with the industry at the tri-national conference 'Artificial Intelligence : from Research to Application' on March 13th, 2019 in Offenburg. The TriRhenaTech alliance is a network of universities in the Upper Rhine Trinational Metropolitan Region comprising of the German universities of applied sciences in Furtwangen, Kaiserslautern, Karlsruhe, and Offenburg, the Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University Loerrach, the French university network Alsace Tech (comprised of 14 'grandes \'ecoles' in the fields of engineering, architecture and management) and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland. The alliance's common goal is to reinforce the transfer of knowledge, research, and technology, as well as the cross-border mobility of students.