Galway researcher’s AI gets €341,000 Google funding to tackle fake news

7 Jul 2017

Figure of US president Donald Trump holding a ‘fake news’ newspaper. Image: Willrow Hood/Shutterstock

A research team led by Galway native Tom Felle has received €341,000 to develop a way for Google to properly tackle fake news with AI.

When it comes to digital media at the moment, few buzzwords are as popular as ‘fake news’.

At Inspirefest 2017, Anne-Marie Tomchak of Mashable and Raju Narisetti of Gizmodo Media Group offered their survival guides to traversing an internet laden with fake news, but Google is now hoping that an Irish-led research team can create a new artificial intelligence (AI) weapon to fight it.

Future Human

According to the Irish Independent, Galway researcher Tom Felle – currently working at University of London – and a team of researchers have bagged €341,000 in Google funding to create an AI app called DMINR.

Using this new funding, the team plans to begin building the web app in September, with expectations that it will take around two years to complete.

With the backing of Google’s Digital News Initiative (DNI), the DMINR app will attempt to shorten the journalist’s workload by tracking down information to fact-check news and verify if it is genuine or not on social media.

Additionally, Felle and his team will try to get DMINR digging through troves of information to find data in places such as governmental records or company reports, which might be useful in an investigative piece.

Or how about robot journalists?

In the tumultuous world of journalism, where news organisations are finding themselves increasingly under threat and advertising spend is low, Felle said products such as DMINR will allow “public-interest journalism in a news ecosystem, where resources are shrinking and, more starkly, newsrooms are closing down”.

Meanwhile, Press Association (PA) has welcomed a similar project, where it will receive €706,000 from the DNI to fund a local news automation service in collaboration with Urbs Media.

Called Reporters and Data and Robots (RADAR), the service is expected to use AI to create 30,000 localised stories each month from open data sets, and will be used in both the UK and Ireland.

PA’s editor-in-chief, Peter Clifton, said: “This is a hugely exciting development for PA, and we believe our partnership with Urbs Media can be a genuine game-changer for media outlets across the UK and Ireland.”

Figure of US president Donald Trump holding a ‘fake news’ newspaper. Image: Willrow Hood/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic