Fake News Makes News in Popular Science Magazine
Who ever is sick of the term “fake news,” raise your hand. I see all of you have agreed. Popular Science.com also agreed when it published an article by Brooke Borel, about using AI to help humans with “fake news.”
In it the author says: “As partisans, pundits, and even governments weaponize information to exploit our regional, gender, and ethnic differences, big tech companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter are under pressure to push back. Startups and large firms have launched attempts to deploy algorithms and artificial intelligence to fact-check digital news. Build smart software, the thinking goes, and truth has a shot.”
In the old days, news media made sure inaccuracies and patently false information never made it into print, says Bill Adair, a journalism professor at Duke University who directs one such effort, the Duke Tech & Check Cooperative. Now there is no filter on the internet. “Consumers need new tools to be able to figure out what’s accurate and what’s not.”
The media has churned out hopeful coverage about how AI efforts may save us from bogus headlines. But what’s inside those digital brains? How will algorithms do their work? Artificial intelligence, after all, performs best when following strict rules. So yeah, we can teach computers to play chess or Go. But because facts are slippery, Cathy O’Neil, a data scientist and author of Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, is not an AI optimist. “The concept of a fact-checking algorithm, at least at first blush, is to compare a statement to what is known truth,” she says. “Since there’s no artificial algorithmic model for truth, it’s just not going to work.”
With the almost daily accusations of “fake news” flying around in every source of media and news, we can all hope that science and technology can come up with the right algorithm to combat all the insanely bad “fake news” sites. Remember, nothing stops a bad algorithm, except a good algorithm with a gun, if you believe the internet.
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