In today’s day and age, “Fake News” is everywhere online. Newspapers and television broadcasting once represented infallible pillars in our society, informing and guiding us, but now the line between fact and fiction has become blurred. Disillusioned by the media’s ability to report accurately, researchers at University of Michigan created an artificial intelligence system that can recognize the difference between real and fake news. By applying this algorithm to our social media, search engines, and news platforms, we can filter out fraudulent reports and once again feel confident in the integrity of our search results.
So how does it work?
The system analyzes speech patterns looking for certain linguistic clues and variables that would determine whether or not the story presented is true. These clues are embedded in the grammatical structure and the complexity of the sentences, sourcing, and citations, as well as the use of certain punctuation. For example, all-caps words and exclamation points render shock value. In the absence of truth, in order to convince the readers, the author might be overcompensating with aggressive punctuation.
Human editors are relied on today to sniff out misinformation in media stories, but it is a slow and grueling process and humans are prone to error. During trials where the artificial intelligence algorithm was pitted against people, it was discovered that humans on average would identify fake news 70 percent of the time whereas AI was more accurate, coming in at 76 percent.
The difference perhaps comes from human inefficiency at multi-tasking. Rada Mihalcea, a computer science professor who was a part of the research team that created the algorithm told Digital Trends, “we have found for instance that the use of the word ‘I’ is associated with truth. It is easy for an algorithm to count the number of times ‘I’ is said, and find the difference. People, however, do not do such counting naturally, and while it may be easy, it would distract them from the actual understanding of the text.”
Artificial intelligence tends to do everything better than us humans. Now, its proved it can even catch us out on our lies. But, while this news-sorting algorithm provides the thread to patch up one gaping hole in the fabric of our society, the question we must ask ourselves is, have we created a new tear elsewhere? What threat is posed by becoming even more dependent on artificial intelligence to solve our problems? How do we prevent this technological advancement from leading to a repressive censorship of the media?