SAN FRANCISCO (Circa) - Can artificial intelligence fix the fake news problem?
A new online news startup called Knowhere is betting on it by employing machine learning technology to scour the web for news and vet all its surrounding facts, hopefully faster and sharper than mere mortal services can.
"When reporting about the world, we need every single bit of evidence we can get our hands on," Knowhere's co-founder, editor-in-chief and CEO, Nathaniel Barling, told Circa. "The degree of corroboration, the degree of citation, the kind of sources the material is coming from ... when it’s moving at a scale that humans can't manage on their own, we need to bring intelligent machines into the picture."
The San Francisco-based site launched this month, serving articles that are reported and largely written by AI and then edited by humans. And as a technology-powered “impartial” news service, these articles aren’t only supposed to be fake news-free, they’re also supposed to be political bias-free.
"We put the draft copy in neutral form," Barling explained. "And for stories where there is a high degree controversy, particularly political stories, we are actually trying to understand the narrative that is being built on either side."
The launch of Knowhere’s mission to lend a hand in the online information crisis seems like perfect timing, that’s despite the fact that the site and technology behind it have been in development since 2014.
The question of how to combat falsely reported or overly partisan news from spreading online has been a hot one since Facebook, the social media network where plenty of people worldwide get their news, fessed up to allowing too much fake new to be passed around on it during the 2016 election.
Though Knowhere’s technology won’t be filtering the news on your Facebook feed – like some artificial intelligence tools coming from new startups and, reportedly, Facebook itself aim to do – its full-fledged journalism service does hope to one-day be the go-to resource for cross-checking the junk you see online, where you’ll hopefully find it rewritten in a facts-only, unbiased format.
"It’s not just about understanding what information is fake news and what isn’t," Barling said. "In my mind, the most critical problem we have in the media space is the entirely different narratives that get built out of the same information."
And in case the AI part of Knowhere’s news platform gives you some “Oh, no! The robots are taking all of our jobs!” vibes, worry not. Barling insists that he never expects a future in journalism that’s completely human-free.
"We're trying to build the largest and most trusted news organization in the world. In doing that, I fully expect us to be one of the largest employers of journalists in the world."