IJCAI 2019
Conference paper

Answering binary causal questions through large-scale text mining: An evaluation using cause-effect pairs from human experts

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In this paper, we study the problem of answering questions of type “Could X cause Y?” where X and Y are general phrases without any constraints. Answering such questions will assist with various decision support tasks such as verifying and extending presumed causal associations used for decision making. Our goal is to analyze the ability of an AI agent built using state-of-the-art unsupervised methods in answering causal questions derived from collections of cause-effect pairs from human experts. We focus only on unsupervised and weakly supervised methods due to the difficulty of creating a large enough training set with a reasonable quality and coverage. The methods we examine rely on a large corpus of text derived from news articles, and include methods ranging from large-scale application of classic NLP techniques and statistical analysis to the use of neural network based phrase embeddings and state-of-the-art neural language models.