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Truth Googles-The future of Fact Checking

A graduate student at MIT is writing software that can fact check sentences in an article, similar to spell check says an article written on NiemanLab.org. The software is being developed by Dan Schultz, a graduate student at the MIT Media Lab.

The software will cut out all the necessary time and effort in Googling a sentence that might seem a bit strange or out of place. The name it’s been given is the truth googles. It won’t necessarily be a wearable item but will help a reader look up information in an article that garners a bit of uneasiness about its truthfulness.

In the interview with Andrew Phelps, a Nieman Lab reporter, Shultz’s goal is to “look[ing] at ways to trigger people’s critical abilities so they think a little bit harder about what they’re reading…before adopting it into their worldview.” Ultimately, Shultz wants to make it easier for readers to find information about issues they are interested in. Especially in this “instant gratification” era this seems like a fool proof idea.

Shultz ensures that the software is intended to pick  “out things that somebody identified as being potentially dubious,” but not marking it as false or true; it’s context is determined on the readers judgement. The software could possibly link to the Politifact “Truth-o-Meter” which is a database that flags questionable statements made by political figures, including Michele Bachmann.

The database will be modeled in an NLP (natural language processing), similar to Siri, that helps the computer understand common associations that us as humans are able to make.

The truth goggles will be an open source once it’s completed sometime next year. This is unlike Politifact which is still trying to find out a way to make it’s data turn a monetary profit.

I think this is a great idea and can help a tremendous amount in fact checking statements made by our political figures. Most of the times they really don’t know what they’re talking about and it is up to think about the information and not instantly accept it as truth.

But as the article states, these truth googles should open it’s doors to a wider range of sources. By linking to facts from other sources can open up a broader spectrum of what the reader thinks and reads. Having some sort of psychological or sociological reference to some of the statements made can make readers smarter and open doors to other factual sources.

A good journalist is able to spark educated and informed debate through the articles they write. Therefore, allowing readers to gather more outside information can make these conversations more intelligent and well-rounded and the truth googles seems to be on the right path.




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