The Millennium Institute for Foundational Research on Dataa (IMFD) started its operations in June 2018, funded by the Millennium Science Initiative of the Chilean National Agency of Research and Development.b IMFD is a joint initiative led by Universidad de Chile and Universidad Católica de Chile, with the participation of five other Chilean universities: Universidad de Concepción, Universidad de Talca, Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María, Universidad Diego Portales, and Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez. IMFD aims to be a reference center in Latin America related to state-of-the-art research on the foundational problems with data, as well as its applications to tackling diverse issues ranging from scientific challenges to complex social problems. As tasks of this kind are interdisciplinary by nature, IMFD gathers a large number of researchers in several areas that include traditional computer science areas such as data management, Web science, algorithms and data structures, privacy and verification, information retrieval, data mining, machine learning, and knowledge representation, as well as some areas from other fields, including statistics, political science, and communication studies. IMFD currently hosts 36 researchers, seven postdoctoral fellows, and more than 100 students.
While deliberate misinformation and deception are by no means new societal phenomena, the recent rise of fake news5 and information silos2 has become a growing international concern, with politicians, governments and media organizations regularly lamenting the issue. A remedy to this situation, we argue, could be found in using technology to empower people's ability to critically assess the quality of information, reasoning, and argumentation through technological means. Recent empirical findings suggest "false news spreads more than the truth because humans, not robots, are more likely to spread it."10 Thus, instead of continuing to focus on ways of limiting the efficacy of bots, educating human users to better recognize fake news stories could prove more effective in mitigating the potentially devastating social impact misinformation poses. While technology certainly contributes to the distribution of fake news and similar attacks on reasonable decision-making and debate, we posit that technology--argument technology in particular--can equally be employed to counterbalance these deliberately misleading or outright false reports made to look like genuine news.
We live in uncertain times. A global pandemic has disrupted our lives. Our broken economies are rapidly restructuring. Climate change looms, disinformation abounds, and war, as ever, hangs over the lives of millions. And at the heart of every global crisis are the chronically underserved, marginalized, oppressed, and persecuted, who are often the first to befall the tragedies of social, economic, environmental, and technological change.3