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British fact-checking charity secures AI grant from Google

Written by Wed 8 May 2019

The spread of false information online has been highlighted as an ongoing threat to society, democracy and elections

A British fact-checking firm is to receive a share of 25 million dollars (£19.1 million) worth of Google investment after being chosen as a winner in an AI competition.

Full Fact was named among the 20 winners of Google’s AI Impact Challenge and will now receive consultation help and mentoring from the technology giant.

The company is working on a project that develops tools which use artificial intelligence to carry out fact-checking at scale and cut down on misinformation.

The spread of false information online has been highlighted as an ongoing threat to society, democracy and elections, with some calling for new legislation to be introduced to better regulate the internet.

Last month the government published a white paper around online harms, which included proposals to cut down on harmful content, including misinformation and fake news.

As part of its selection by Google, Full Fact and its partners will now receive a two million dollar (£1.5 million) grant over three years to go towards its work, which is being carried out alongside other fellow fact-checking firms Chequeado, Africa Check and the Open Data Institute.

Google’s AI Impact Challenge had asked for organisations to submit their ideas on how to use AI to help address societal challenges.

Full Fact’s Mevan Babakar said: “The harm caused by misinformation affects millions of people’s health, safety and ability to participate in society and is a threat to democracy in countries around the world.

“Tech responses to this problem need to be grounded in a firm commitment to free speech, a deep understanding of the responsible limits of AI and collaboration across sectors and borders.

“In three years, we hope our project will help policymakers understand how to responsibly tackle misinformation, help internet platforms make fair and informed decisions and help individual citizens know better who and what they can trust.”

Google said the 20 winners would now meet in San Francisco next week to begin a six-month accelerator programme, where the firms will begin to receive help and guidance from Google on their projects.

Jacqueline Fuller, president of Google.org, the tech giant’s philanthropic arm and organiser of the competition, said: “We received thousands of applications to the Google AI Impact Challenge and are excited that Full Fact, Chequeado, Africa Check and the Open Data Institute were selected to receive funding and expertise from Google.

“AI is at a nascent stage when it comes to the value it can have for the social impact sector, and we look forward to seeing the outcomes of this work and considering where there is potential for us to do even more.”

Written by Wed 8 May 2019

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