Proceedings of the Workshop on Automated Extraction of Socio-political Events from News 2020

Ali Hürriyetoğlu, Erdem Yörük, Vanni Zavarella, Hristo Tanev (Editors)

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Marseille, France
European Language Resources Association (ELRA)
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Proceedings of the Workshop on Automated Extraction of Socio-political Events from News 2020
Ali Hürriyetoğlu | Erdem Yörük | Vanni Zavarella | Hristo Tanev

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Automated Extraction of Socio-political Events from News (AESPEN): Workshop and Shared Task Report
Ali Hürriyetoğlu | Vanni Zavarella | Hristo Tanev | Erdem Yörük | Ali Safaya | Osman Mutlu

We describe our effort on automated extraction of socio-political events from news in the scope of a workshop and a shared task we organized at Language Resources and Evaluation Conference (LREC 2020). We believe the event extraction studies in computational linguistics and social and political sciences should further support each other in order to enable large scale socio-political event information collection across sources, countries, and languages. The event consists of regular research papers and a shared task, which is about event sentence coreference identification (ESCI), tracks. All submissions were reviewed by five members of the program committee. The workshop attracted research papers related to evaluation of machine learning methodologies, language resources, material conflict forecasting, and a shared task participation report in the scope of socio-political event information collection. It has shown us the volume and variety of both the data sources and event information collection approaches related to socio-political events and the need to fill the gap between automated text processing techniques and requirements of social and political sciences.

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Keynote Abstract: Too soon? The limitations of AI for event data
Clionadh Raleigh

Not all conflict datasets offer equal levels of coverage, depth, use-ability, and content. A review of the inclusion criteria, methodology, and sourcing of leading publicly available conflict datasets demonstrates that there are significant discrepancies in the output produced by ostensibly similar projects. This keynote will question the presumption of substantial overlap between datasets, and identify a number of important gaps left by deficiencies across core criteria for effective conflict data collection and analysis.

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Keynote Abstract: Current Open Questions for Operational Event Data
Philip A. Schrodt

In this brief keynote, I will address what I see as five majorissues in terms of development for operational event datasets (that is, event data intended for real time monitoringand forecasting, rather than purely for academic research).

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Analyzing ELMo and DistilBERT on Socio-political News Classification
Berfu Büyüköz | Ali Hürriyetoğlu | Arzucan Özgür

This study evaluates the robustness of two state-of-the-art deep contextual language representations, ELMo and DistilBERT, on supervised learning of binary protest news classification (PC) and sentiment analysis (SA) of product reviews. A ”cross-context” setting is enabled using test sets that are distinct from the training data. The models are fine-tuned and fed into a Feed-Forward Neural Network (FFNN) and a Bidirectional Long Short Term Memory network (BiLSTM). Multinomial Naive Bayes (MNB) and Linear Support Vector Machine (LSVM) are used as traditional baselines. The results suggest that DistilBERT can transfer generic semantic knowledge to other domains better than ELMo. DistilBERT is also 30% smaller and 83% faster than ELMo, which suggests superiority for smaller computational training budgets. When generalization is not the utmost preference and test domain is similar to the training domain, the traditional machine learning (ML) algorithms can still be considered as more economic alternatives to deep language representations.

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Text Categorization for Conflict Event Annotation
Fredrik Olsson | Magnus Sahlgren | Fehmi ben Abdesslem | Ariel Ekgren | Kristine Eck

We cast the problem of event annotation as one of text categorization, and compare state of the art text categorization techniques on event data produced within the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP). Annotating a single text involves assigning the labels pertaining to at least 17 distinct categorization tasks, e.g., who were the attacking organization, who was attacked, and where did the event take place. The text categorization techniques under scrutiny are a classical Bag-of-Words approach; character-based contextualized embeddings produced by ELMo; embeddings produced by the BERT base model, and a version of BERT base fine-tuned on UCDP data; and a pre-trained and fine-tuned classifier based on ULMFiT. The categorization tasks are very diverse in terms of the number of classes to predict as well as the skeweness of the distribution of classes. The categorization results exhibit a large variability across tasks, ranging from 30.3% to 99.8% F-score.

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TF-IDF Character N-grams versus Word Embedding-based Models for Fine-grained Event Classification: A Preliminary Study
Jakub Piskorski | Guillaume Jacquet

Automating the detection of event mentions in online texts and their classification vis-a-vis domain-specific event type taxonomies has been acknowledged by many organisations worldwide to be of paramount importance in order to facilitate the process of intelligence gathering. This paper reports on some preliminary experiments of comparing various linguistically-lightweight approaches for fine-grained event classification based on short text snippets reporting on events. In particular, we compare the performance of a TF-IDF-weighted character n-gram SVM-based model versus SVMs trained on various of-the-shelf pre-trained word embeddings (GloVe, BERT, FastText) as features. We exploit a relatively large event corpus consisting of circa 610K short text event descriptions classified using a 25-event categories that cover political violence and protest events. The best results, i.e., 83.5% macro and 92.4% micro F1 score, were obtained using the TF-IDF-weighted character n-gram model.

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Seeing the Forest and the Trees: Detection and Cross-Document Coreference Resolution of Militarized Interstate Disputes
Benjamin Radford

Previous efforts to automate the detection of social and political events in text have primarily focused on identifying events described within single sentences or documents. Within a corpus of documents, these automated systems are unable to link event references—recognize singular events across multiple sentences or documents. A separate literature in computational linguistics on event coreference resolution attempts to link known events to one another within (and across) documents. I provide a data set for evaluating methods to identify certain political events in text and to link related texts to one another based on shared events. The data set, Headlines of War, is built on the Militarized Interstate Disputes data set and offers headlines classified by dispute status and headline pairs labeled with coreference indicators. Additionally, I introduce a model capable of accomplishing both tasks. The multi-task convolutional neural network is shown to be capable of recognizing events and event coreferences given the headlines’ texts and publication dates.

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Conflict Event Modelling: Research Experiment and Event Data Limitations
Matina Halkia | Stefano Ferri | Michail Papazoglou | Marie-Sophie Van Damme | Dimitrios Thomakos

This paper presents the conflict event modelling experiment, conducted at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, particularly focusing on the limitations of the input data. This model is under evaluation as to potentially complement the Global Conflict Risk Index (GCRI), a conflict risk model supporting the design of European Union’s conflict prevention strategies. The model aims at estimating the occurrence of material conflict events, under the assumption that an increase in material conflict events goes along with a decrease in material and verbal cooperation. It adopts a Long-Short Term Memory Cell Recurrent Neural Network on country-level actor-based event datasets that indicate potential triggers to violent conflict such as demonstrations, strikes, or elections-related violence. The observed data and the outcome of the model predictions consecutively, consolidate an early warning alarm system that signals abnormal social unrest upheavals, and appears promising as an approach towards a conflict trigger model. However, event-based systems still require overcoming certain obstacles related to the quality of the input data and the event classification method.

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Supervised Event Coding from Text Written in Arabic: Introducing Hadath
Javier Osorio | Alejandro Reyes | Alejandro Beltrán | Atal Ahmadzai

This article introduces Hadath, a supervised protocol for coding event data from text written in Arabic. Hadath contributes to recent efforts in advancing multi-language event coding using computer-based solutions. In this application, we focus on extracting event data about the conflict in Afghanistan from 2008 to 2018 using Arabic information sources. The implementation relies first on a Machine Learning algorithm to classify news stories relevant to the Afghan conflict. Then, using Hadath, we implement the Natural Language Processing component for event coding from Arabic script. The output database contains daily geo-referenced information at the district level on who did what to whom, when and where in the Afghan conflict. The data helps to identify trends in the dynamics of violence, the provision of governance, and traditional conflict resolution in Afghanistan for different actors over time and across space.

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Protest Event Analysis: A Longitudinal Analysis for Greece
Konstantina Papanikolaou | Haris Papageorgiou

The advent of Big Data has shifted social science research towards computational methods. The volume of data that is nowadays available has brought a radical change in traditional approaches due to the cost and effort needed for processing. Knowledge extraction from heterogeneous and ample data is not an easy task to tackle. Thus, interdisciplinary approaches are necessary, combining experts of both social and computer science. This paper aims to present a work in the context of protest analysis, which falls into the scope of Computational Social Science. More specifically, the contribution of this work is to describe a Computational Social Science methodology for Event Analysis. The presented methodology is generic in the sense that it can be applied in every event typology and moreover, it is innovative and suitable for interdisciplinary tasks as it incorporates the human-in-the-loop. Additionally, a case study is presented concerning Protest Analysis in Greece over the last two decades. The conceptual foundation lies mainly upon claims analysis, and newspaper data were used in order to map, document and discuss protests in Greece in a longitudinal perspective.

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Event Clustering within News Articles
Faik Kerem Örs | Süveyda Yeniterzi | Reyyan Yeniterzi

This paper summarizes our group’s efforts in the event sentence coreference identification shared task, which is organized as part of the Automated Extraction of Socio-Political Events from News (AESPEN) Workshop. Our main approach consists of three steps. We initially use a transformer based model to predict whether a pair of sentences refer to the same event or not. Later, we use these predictions as the initial scores and recalculate the pair scores by considering the relation of sentences in a pair with respect to other sentences. As the last step, final scores between these sentences are used to construct the clusters, starting with the pairs with the highest scores. Our proposed approach outperforms the baseline approach across all evaluation metrics.