Dan Connolly's tinkering lab notebook

Can Google and Facebook robots help the Web promote the truth?

A critical, independent and investigative press is the lifeblood of any democracy. -- Nelson Mandela

Newspaper revenue has traditionally come from advertising. Craigslist wiped out classified advertising and Google and Facebook get the lion's share of digital advertising revenue1, which dwarfs newspaper advertising revenue by 3x2.

Our kids can't tell the difference between real and fake news3.

The deep-learning robots at Google can caption photos as well as humans4. How hard could it be to teach them to tell true stories from fake? That is:

  • determine the main claims of an article
  • determine the level of support for these claims
  • determine whether promotion of the article is more likely to lead to spead of true or false information

The issue of bias via incomplete truth is perhaps a harder problem.


  1. Google and Facebook Lead Digital Ad Industry to Revenue Record
    by Aleksandra Gjorgievska
    April 21, 2016
  2. U.S. Advertising Industry - Statistics & Facts
  3. Students Have 'Dismaying' Inability To Tell Fake News From Real, Study Finds November 23, 2016
  4. Microsoft, Google Beat Humans at Image Recognition Deep learning algorithms compete at ImageNet challenge
    R. Colin Johnson
    EE|Times 2/18/2015