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Why “Sorry, I don’t know” is sometimes the best answer: The Washington Post’s technology chief on its first AI chatbot
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Nov. 17, 2016, 1:49 p.m.
Audience & Social

Google continues to make nice with European publishers, part two: The search giant announced Thursday it is supporting 124 new media projects across 25 European countries with €24 million as part of its Digital News Initiative Innovation Fund. Google intends to dole out €150 million over three years, and has already spread €27 million across 128 projects back in February (we wrote about a number of them).

Google came under fire this week for surfacing a fake news result in its search results, and the company jumped to ban Google-served ads on websites “that misrepresent, misstate, or conceal information.”

“It is a learning moment for us and we will definitely work to fix it,” Google’s chief executive Sundar Pichai told the BBC on Thursday, in response to an outcry in the days following the U.S. election on the influence of fake news. “From our perspective, there should just be no situation in which fake news gets distributed, so we are all for doing better.”

Among the projects receiving Google money are several fact-checking efforts, including a U.K.-based group called Full Fact that’s building an automated fact-checker tailored for journalists:

FACTS will be the first fully automated factchecking tool: our original technology will recognize claims in political debates and online media and immediately alert journalists if they are inaccurate. FACTS will give journalists the killer question the moment they need it. It will save time, when journalists have never had less. It will help stop misinformation spreading through the news. It will help journalism maintain the credibility that audiences demand. Our tool has two modes. One identifies claims we have factchecked before and provides a verdict. The most innovative mode factchecks claims automatically using statistical analysis — something never done before.

Scotland-based investigative news outlet the Ferret is also getting funding to build up a formal fact-checking operation, in the wake of the EU referendum (and another one on Scottish independence):

Ferret Fact Check will examine claims made by those in positions of power. The fact-checking will be intelligent and authoritative and show all the source material and workings while making clear where fact ends and spin begins, where there are shades of grey and what assumptions are being made.

Other news organizations receiving funding are focused on data-driven reporting and improvements in automation. Germany’s Spiegel Online, for instance, received €689,116 for a collaborative project with Institut für Spielanalyse and TU München to find better ways to cover soccer games (though what that means is unclear from the short project blurb):

The project aims to create a new way of experiencing and analyzing soccer games for readers and journalists. The main focus is an innovative, science based and data-driven sports journalism based on entirely new approaches in data collection, data interpretation and player analysis. Fans will be able to become experts — using novel applications based on artificial intelligence.

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