Engineers with innovative ideas about how to tell facts from falsehoods are invited to submit proposals in a competition with a $50,000 prize.
Winston Churchill once said: “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”
In the not too distant past, news was not just published, but curated. Inaccuracies were debunked and remained unpublished. Statements and quotes that were disputable or debatable were published in juxtaposition with statements from critics or skeptics. Credible journalism – and not all journalism was or is credible – was about getting it first, and getting it right.
Today, lies can multiply quickly because information and data is available in real-time. While many of us get our news from Google, Twitter, Facebook and online news aggregators, we may not be aware that there is little or no online curating, except by those media outlets that have sprung out of traditional publications that impose newsroom ethics.
The result is a tsunami of inaccurate and misleading statements by public officials that constantly spew forth leaving voters, investors and consumers misinformed. Fact-checking sites and technologies exist, but use humans to do most of the work by selectively zeroing in on a handful of statements. Fact-checked results are published, but often days or even weeks later.
Our thirst for immediate information makes debunking mistruths difficult, if not impossible, and that is why fast, comprehensive fact checking is more necessary than ever. A new, technology-based approach to real-time fact checking is required to bring us back to a “get it first, but get it right” methodology for news publishing and consumption.
The Fast and Furious Fact Check Challenge is a new HeroX competition with a $50,000 prize that seeks engineers, data scientists, information management experts and crazy thinkers who are tired of not knowing if what they read, hear or see is true. We believe the solution will rely on your knowledge of software algorithms, machine learning, natural language processing, crowd-sourced checking, data science, voice intonation or facial emotion analyses, chatbots, and even existing technologies such as Facebook’s anti-fake news tool.
The competition is open to everyone, everywhere. You don't have to develop the technology, just give us your best idea for solving the problem.
Your real-time fact checking solution will help to keep politicians and all public officials honest by pouncing immediately on liars and validating truth-tellers instantly. It won’t prevent dishonesty or stupid, unsupportable statements, but it will catch those who make them and become a deterrent to those who might. That way, lies won’t get half way around the world before truth can put its pants on.
--Diane Francis is a columnist, author, investigative journalist, screenplay writer and Editor-at-Large at Canada’s National Post.