Your background: Who are you and how did you become interested in technology?
I am an Associate Professor at the University of Stavanger. I teach and conduct research in Data Mining and Deep Learning with applications to Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Information Retrieval. Since 2009 I have been working on research problems related to extracting information from news archives, classifying, ranking, and recommending news. I also spent 6 months at Spotify as a visiting researcher and worked on interesting problems related to music recommendation and notification systems for music. Even though I never dreamed of founding a company, I was inspired by Daniel Ek founder of Spotify, who convinced huge music label companies to change their distribution models. I was sitting adjacent to his office when I was at Spotify. In 2017, realizing the gravity and importance of misinformation and disinformation as one of the societal challenges, I thought about using machine learning and AI to solve this problem.
What is your most important role at work?
I am the co-founder and CTO of Factiverse.
What is the main focus/goal at Factiverse?
Our vision is “A universe where facts matter”. Our main focus is to empower the journalists to produce high-quality journalism using cutting AI and NLP.
What is your most important project this year?
We are working on an AI editor for journalists to research in writing articles and fact check at the same time. It will also serve as a dashboard with several insightful analytics ranging from bias detection, timelines, and social media coverage, etc. We believe it can save up to 2 hours of time for journalists every day.
What do you think are the most interesting controversies?
Verifying the truthfulness of facts is difficult, it is impossible to build a truth machine! Instead, the best we can do is to provide all the information related to the claims from credible sources and let the users decide for themselves.
What do you think needs to be considered for the future?
A lot of fact-checking happens manually today which could take days to weeks. False facts spread 100 times faster than true facts. We need more automated tools to stop false facts at source before they spread.
Is there anything we do well in this field here in Norway?
Norwegians are one of the most avid consumers of news in the world. Norway has the largest number of paid subscribers of news in the world (48% pay for news). With 98% in Norway access to the Internet, digital literacy and awareness are one of the best in the world.
What do you think is the most important takeaway from our conversation?
Automating fact-checking is a hard problem but there is hope with cutting-edge AI technologies and natural language processing.