I’m sure everybody has heard of the term “fake news”. It is not a term that many people used a couple of years ago.
Nowadays, fake news is running rampant amidst several social media sites. You may have encountered some of them on Facebook and Twitter, for instance. Some of them are reporting that a certain someone has died; some of them claim a certain event that is happening. All of which is not true.
To protect people from these kinds of fake news events, a number of organizations are thinking of the best approach to solve this growing problem. What we need is a universal and objective tool that could identify and disregard false information before anyone could make a bad decision based on it.
The Bad Effects of Fake News
Fake news is getting worse over time and that is a huge problem. Con artists, as well as nefarious governments, have always tried to convince the public to do things or think a certain way that the public normally wouldn’t do.
It may seem harmless to some, but fake news is a very real threat to our democracy and free debate. What I meant by that is the intentional sharing of inaccurate, fabricated stories and photos with the purpose of influencing people’s thinking on a certain subject, not the “fake news” as defined by Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.
These fabricated stories are now exploiting the functional logic of social networks, and so users can get upset at any time. Certain hot topics can be effortlessly propagated: the fear of isolation, the misuse of authority, and questions of war and peace hang in the air.
One of the most popular fake news is the one that is presenting Angela Merkel as mentally ill. That kind of news can be really damaging and, of course, very scary. How can we defend ourselves against fake news, which comes in the guise of scoops?
With the way the technology is advancing today, it’s only a matter of time before criminals come up with a more sophisticated way of duping us and taking our hard-earned money. What we need is an equally capable technology that can figure out what is real and what is false.
IBM has the Answer
Just last month, IBM showcased Project Debater, an AI system that can debate humans on complicated topics, and it has won against a top human debater using actual facts.
Project Debater completely showcases what we need since it can listen to an argument and provide a fact-based counter to it in real time. It could be made so that it would monitor various social media posts and determine whether the facts being presented are credible enough.
One practical use for this technology is in monitoring electronically what you hear and say while providing real-time advice on the best possible action. With this piece of technology, any criminal would have a tough time fooling anyone.
Project Debater sounds pretty amazing, but it doesn’t come without risks. Since Project Debater will no doubt have an undeniable power over most of our decision-making and since we will eventually have to depend on it, it will be problematic if it ever becomes compromised.
If this technology becomes corrupted, many of our critical public decisions would ultimately become bad ones. Now, this is a real concern because it will, in fact, have a big influence on most of the things that we do.
For now, IBM’s technology is perhaps the best tool to protect us from the fake news that is prevalent in the world around us. But just as a matter-of-fact advice, each of us should be sensible in what we read and verify facts before believing anything. Welcome to a new era were artificial intelligence either saves the day once again or takes us deeper into a more menacing rabbit hole.