Who is the troll?

This science communication project focuses on developing a game that teaches secondary-school students and senior citizens how artificial intelligence works. Participants take on the role of moderator in an online discussion and can enlist the help of a computer algorithm. In this way they discover the pros and cons of artificial intelligence.

Our aim with this project is to anticipate the increasing role that AI will play in society. Through it we want to empower the most vulnerable groups – young people and senior citizens – in our online society. It is in the interest of these target groups to know about AI, because it can also be misused, to improperly influence people for example.

The first target group we want to reach are young people between the ages of 15 and 20. The government is keen to use citizenship education to get young people more actively involved in the social debate. Through our project we are aiming to empower young people in online discussions. Our second target group are pensioners (65+). This group is becoming increasingly dependent on digital tools for social contact. However, they are often lagging behind when it comes to digital skills.

Positive side of AI

The computer game to be developed is a cooperative game, in which we also aim to highlight the positive side of AI. The automatic filters used on social media often create something of a stir among users: censorship! People frequently feel that they are not being heard. We want to show that AI also adds value, provided it is used in the right way.

Within this project the applicants, consisting of a group of AI researchers, science journalists, teachers and a game developer, aim to deliver the following outcomes:

1. A game in which participants step into the shoes of a moderator and have to assess responses to an online discussion, deciding for themselves when to enlist the help of AI. This game will be used both in secondary schools and in libraries.

2. A series of dialogue evenings, specifically for the older target group. Through these events we aim to take members of this target group through parts of the game together and enter into discussion about the pros and cons of AI. For this we are working together with PraatProducties, which previously organised dialogues for NEMO Kennislink.

3. A series of approximately 12 blogs, published on NEMO Kennislink, taking readers through the research and the results obtained from the game.

Who is the troll? is a science communication project that forms part of the Dutch Research Council’s BETTER-MODS project and is closely linked to Cedric Waterschoot’s PhD research. He is developing an automatic moderation tool for online discussions, for which he is also making use of the data generated by the game players in this project.

Runtime: January 2023 – January 2025
Partners: Tilburg University, Universiteit Utrecht, NEMO Kennislink, Alliantie Digitaal Samenleven, Stichting Mediawijsheid, Basten Stokhuyzen, Sven Kruizinga, Cefas van Rossem.