University of Pittsburgh

Teaching Machines to Read Human Rights Reports and Measure Violations in Higher Resolution: Introducing PULSAR 2.0

William S. Dietrich II Professor of Political Science
Friday, February 7, 2020 - 12:30pm - 1:00pm

Abstract: The accelerating availability of information from human rights monitors such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the US State Department has led to new opportunities to measure repression and human rights protections in higher resolution. However, to date, most approaches that attempt to automatically structure textual reports use simple, lower-dimensional observations such as the counts of words that ignore syntax and word order. While these representations are useful for some applications, they limit the inferences scholars and policy-makers can extract from human rights reports. We present PULSAR 2.0 a new system that takes syntax and word order into account. PULSAR uniquely allows researchers to extract both the judgements and the aspects/rights being judged from texts at scale. We illustrate that this more detailed information is useful both for improving predictions of physical integrity rights and women's political rights, but also for generating machine learning models that are more interpretable than conventional specifications. This latter benefit holds the promise of coherently connecting qualitative and quantitative analyses of human rights texts.

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