Misinformation and Truth: An Issue in Play

July 6, 2015

Navigate to “Italian Newspaper Creates Fake Restaurant to Prove TripAdvisor Sucks.” The story tells the story of a real journalistic operation which created a non existent restaurant. Then the real journalists contributed reviews of the vaporous eatery. TripAdvisor’s algorithms sucked in the content and, according to the write up,

declared La Scaletta the best restaurant in the town, beating out another highly-regarded restaurant with over 300 reviews (most of them positive).

Ah, real journalism, truth, and the manipulation of socially-anchored systems.

Now direct your attention to “Fact Verification As Easy as Spellcheck?” The point of this article is that figuring what’s accurate and inaccurate is non trivial. The write up reports:

Researchers at Indiana University decided to try a different approach to the problem.  Instead of trying to build complex logic into a program, researchers proposed something simpler.  Why not try measure the likelihood of a statement being true by analyzing the proximity of its terms and the specificity of its connectors?

The procedure involves a knowledge graph. Is this the same, much loved graph approach built with the most frequently used mathematical methods? No information to answer that question is in my files, gentle reader.

My radar is directed at Bloomington, Indiana. Perhaps more information will become available on software’s ability to figure out if the Italian restaurant is real or the confection of real journalists. Note: The GOOG seems to be laboring in this vineyard was well. See this Bezos story.

What if—just hypothetical, of course—the “truth” methods can be spoofed by procedures more sophisticated that cooking up some half cooked tortellini? Those common numerical methods are pliable, based on my team’s research. Really flexible when it comes to what’s “truth.”

Stephen E Arnold, July 6, 2015


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