UK-based fact checking charity Full Fact has been awarded a grant of $2 million (€1.79 million) by Google to develop AI and disinformation strategies.
The charity is one of 20 winners of Google’s AI Impact Challenge, aimed at demonstrating practical uses of artificial intelligence (AI) for addressing society’s challenges. Full Fact’s head of automated fact-checking Mevan Babakar said: “One of the great things about this grant is that it buys us time. As fact checkers, you can imagine we’re quite resource-strapped; but we also don’t necessarily have the time to be focusing on bigger problems, or things that require just a bit more space and thinking. Defining AI problems in this space really does take up a concerted amount of effort. Right now, we as fact checkers have to make a decision every single day about what is the most valuable thing to be fact-checking. We make that decision based on very limited information, based on monitoring data that we have, and we make a judgement off the back of that. We definitely could make smarter choices.”
In addition to deploying wider and more stringent fact checking activity using AI and disinformation dispelling techniques, Full Fact hopes to use the grant to build closer relationships across the information technology and computer sciences community. With the EU elections rapidly approaching and Brexit overshadowing public discourse throughout the UK, the rise in political activity in the UK has seen a commensurate increase in online disinformation.
Babakar added: “If you’re looking at millions and millions of sentences that have come out in the last 24 hours, you can see which claims that have been repeated the most in that 24 hours. That allows us to use our very limited manual fact checking capabilities to be deployed much more carefully and sensibly so we actually stop the pieces of misinformation that are doing the most harm. Regardless of whether there’s more misinformation or not, there’s definitely been more examples of misinformation really hurting people’s lives. [For example,] we see outbreaks of anti-vaxx [anti-vaccination] information; and that has led to measles outbreaks and lives actually being destroyed as a result.”