Network scientists at Indiana University have developed a new computational method that can leverage any body of knowledge to aid in the complex human task of fact-checking.
In the first use of this method, IU scientists created a simple computational fact-checker that assigns "truth scores" to statements concerning history, geography and entertainment, as well as random statements drawn from the text of Wikipedia, the well-known online encyclopedia.
In multiple experiments, the automated system consistently matched the assessment of human fact-checkers in terms of their certitude about the accuracy of these statements.
The results of the study, "Computational Fact Checking From Knowledge Networks," are reported in today's issue of PLOS ONE.
"These results are encouraging and exciting," said Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia, a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research in the IU Bloomington School of Informatics and Computing, who led the study. "We live in an age of information overload, including abundant misinformation, unsubstantiated rumors and conspiracy theories whose volume threatens to overwhelm journalists and the public.
"Our experiments point to methods to abstract the vital and complex human task of fact-checking into a network analysis problem, which is easy to solve computationally."
The team selected Wikipedia as the information source for their experiment due to its breadth and open nature. Although Wikipedia is not 100 percent accurate, previous studies estimate the online encyclopedia is nearly as reliable as traditional encyclopedias, but also covers many more subjects.
Using factual information from infoboxes on the site, IU scientists built a "knowledge graph" with 3 million concepts and 23 million links between them. A link between two concepts in the graph can be read as a simple factual statement, such as "Socrates is a person" or "Paris is the capital of France."
In what the IU scientists describe as an "automatic game of trivia," the team applied their algorithm to answer simple questions related to geography, history and entertainment, including statements that matched states or nations with their capitals, presidents with their spouses and Oscar-winning film directors with the movie for which they won the Best Picture awards, with the majority of tests returning highly accurate truth scores.
Lastly, the scientists used the algorithm to fact-check excerpts from the main text of Wikipedia, which were previously labeled by human fact-checkers as true or false, and found a positive correlation between the truth scores produced by the algorithm and the answers provided by the fact-checkers.
Significantly, the IU team found their computational method could even assess the truthfulness of statements about information not directly contained in the infoboxes. For example, the fact that Steve Tesich --- the Serbian-American screenwriter of the classic Hoosier film "Breaking Away" -- graduated from IU, despite the information not being specifically addressed in the infobox about him.
"The measurement of the truthfulness of statements appears to rely strongly on indirect connections, or 'paths,' between concepts," Ciampaglia said. "If we prevented our fact-checker from traversing multiple nodes on the graph, it performed poorly since it could not discover relevant indirect connections. But because it's free to explore beyond the information provided in one infobox, our method leverages the power of the full knowledge graph."
Although the experiments were conducted using Wikipedia, the IU team's method does not assume any particular source of knowledge. The scientists aim to conduct additional experiments using knowledge graphs built from other sources of human knowledge, such as Freebase, the open-knowledge base built by Google, and note that multiple information sources could be used together to account for different belief systems.
"Misinformation endangers the public debate on a broad range of global societal issues," said Filippo Menczer, director of the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research and a professor in the IU School of Informatics and Computing, who is a co-author on the study. "With increasing reliance on the Internet as a source of information, we need tools to deal with the misinformation that reaches us every day. Computational fact-checkers could become part of the solution to this problem."
The team added a significant amount of natural language processing research, and other work remains before these methods could be made available to the public as a software tool.
Additional co-authors on the study are professor Luis M. Rocha, associate professors Johan Bollen and Alessandro Flammini, and doctoral student Prashant Shiralkar, all in the School of Informatics and Computing. This work was supported in part by the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Lilly Endowment, the James S. McDonnell Foundation, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense.
Kevin Fryling | EurekAlert!
Cutting edge research for the industries of tomorrow – DFKI and NICT expand cooperation
21.03.2017 | Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz GmbH, DFKI
Molecular motor-powered biocomputers
20.03.2017 | Technische Universität Dresden
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences