Nadav Borenstein


pdf bib
Measuring Intersectional Biases in Historical Documents
Nadav Borenstein | Karolina Stanczak | Thea Rolskov | Natacha Klein Käfer | Natália da Silva Perez | Isabelle Augenstein
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Data-driven analyses of biases in historical texts can help illuminate the origin and development of biases prevailing in modern society. However, digitised historical documents pose a challenge for NLP practitioners as these corpora suffer from errors introduced by optical character recognition (OCR) and are written in an archaic language. In this paper, we investigate the continuities and transformations of bias in historical newspapers published in the Caribbean during the colonial era (18th to 19th centuries). Our analyses are performed along the axes of gender, race, and their intersection. We examine these biases by conducting a temporal study in which we measure the development of lexical associations using distributional semantics models and word embeddings. Further, we evaluate the effectiveness of techniques designed to process OCR-generated data and assess their stability when trained on and applied to the noisy historical newspapers. We find that there is a trade-off between the stability of the word embeddings and their compatibility with the historical dataset. We provide evidence that gender and racial biases are interdependent, and their intersection triggers distinct effects. These findings align with the theory of intersectionality, which stresses that biases affecting people with multiple marginalised identities compound to more than the sum of their constituents.

pdf bib
Multilingual Event Extraction from Historical Newspaper Adverts
Nadav Borenstein | Natália da Silva Perez | Isabelle Augenstein
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

NLP methods can aid historians in analyzing textual materials in greater volumes than manually feasible. Developing such methods poses substantial challenges though. First, acquiring large, annotated historical datasets is difficult, as only domain experts can reliably label them. Second, most available off-the-shelf NLP models are trained on modern language texts, rendering them significantly less effective when applied to historical corpora. This is particularly problematic for less well studied tasks, and for languages other than English. This paper addresses these challenges while focusing on the under-explored task of event extraction from a novel domain of historical texts. We introduce a new multilingual dataset in English, French, and Dutch composed of newspaper ads from the early modern colonial period reporting on enslaved people who liberated themselves from enslavement. We find that: 1) even with scarce annotated data, it is possible to achieve surprisingly good results by formulating the problem as an extractive QA task and leveraging existing datasets and models for modern languages; and 2) cross-lingual low-resource learning for historical languages is highly challenging, and machine translation of the historical datasets to the considered target languages is, in practice, often the best-performing solution.


pdf bib
How Did This Get Funded?! Automatically Identifying Quirky Scientific Achievements
Chen Shani | Nadav Borenstein | Dafna Shahaf
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Humor is an important social phenomenon, serving complex social and psychological functions. However, despite being studied for millennia humor is computationally not well understood, often considered an AI-complete problem. In this work, we introduce a novel setting in humor mining: automatically detecting funny and unusual scientific papers. We are inspired by the Ig Nobel prize, a satirical prize awarded annually to celebrate funny scientific achievements (example past winner: “Are cows more likely to lie down the longer they stand?”). This challenging task has unique characteristics that make it particularly suitable for automatic learning. We construct a dataset containing thousands of funny papers and use it to learn classifiers, combining findings from psychology and linguistics with recent advances in NLP. We use our models to identify potentially funny papers in a large dataset of over 630,000 articles. The results demonstrate the potential of our methods, and more broadly the utility of integrating state-of-the-art NLP methods with insights from more traditional disciplines