The rapid deployment of digital systems into all aspects of daily life requires embedding social constructs into the digital world. Because of the complexity of these systems, there is a need for technical support to understand their actions. Social concepts, such as explainability, accountability, and responsibility rely on a notion of actual causality. Encapsulated in the Halpern and Pearl’s (HP) definition, actual causality conveniently integrates into the socio-technical world if operationalized in concrete applications. To the best of our knowledge, theories of actual causality such as the HP definition are either applied in correspondence with domain-specific concepts (e.g., a lineage of a database query) or demonstrated using straightforward philosophical examples. On the other hand, there is a lack of explicit automated actual causality theories and operationalizations for helping understand the actions of systems. Therefore, this paper proposes a unifying framework and an interactive platform (Actual Causality Canvas) to address the problem of operationalizing actual causality for different domains and purposes. We apply this framework in such areas as aircraft accidents, unmanned aerial vehicles, and artificial intelligence (AI) systems for purposes of forensic investigation, fault diagnosis, and explainable AI. We show that with minimal effort, using our general-purpose interactive platform, actual causality reasoning can be integrated into these domains.
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