This will no doubt provoke the many Facebook critics who remain hell-bent against fact-checks.
Today, Meta has announced the launch of a new AI model which is capable of automatically scanning hundreds of thousands of website citations at once, in order to check whether they truly support the corresponding claims on a page.
As you can see in this example, Meta’s new ‘Sphere’ system is able to scan a Wikipedia page, for example, for supporting links within the text. It can then match up whether the linked pages actually do reinforce the claims made in the original post.
As explained by Meta:
“[The process] calls attention to questionable citations, allowing human editors to evaluate the cases most likely to be flawed without having to sift through thousands of properly cited statements. If a citation seems irrelevant, our model will suggest a more applicable source, even pointing to the specific passage that supports the claim.”
So it’s essentially a double-checking measure for reference links, which right now is only focused on Wikipedia pages. But it could eventually be expanded to all websites and reference links, helping to ensure more accurate data sharing, with less manual work.
Meta says that it’s focusing on Wikipedia to begin with, because it’s one of the most referenced knowledge sources on the web.
“As the most popular encyclopedia of all time – with some 6.5 million articles – Wikipedia is the default first stop in the hunt for research information, background material, or an answer to that nagging question about pop culture. But sometimes that quick search for information comes with a nagging doubt: How do we know whether what we’re reading is accurate?”
Because Wikipedia is crowd-sourced, and always expanding, it’s becoming ever more difficult for the platform’s team of volunteers to keep up with public edits, which can lead to misinformation and confusion. You’ve likely seen this in high-profile news stories, where people will edit a Wikipedia page as a joke.
Which may be good for the memes, but it can also lessen the accuracy of Wikipedia’s info, and with so many people now relying on the site for information, that can be problematic.
Which is where this new system comes in – though it could also potentially hold even more value as an SEO tool, in detecting and alerting web page owners to broken or erroneous links, which could help to ensure better data mapping to contextually match up relevant queries.
An automated system able to alert site managers to problematic links could be hugely valuable in this respect, and could improve broader web information flow and accuracy, facilitating a better data ecosystem.
It also marks yet another significant advance in AI understanding, and human-like processing of information.
“To succeed at this task, an AI model must understand the claim in question, find the corresponding passage on the cited website, and predict whether the source truly verifies the statement […] Where a person would use reasoning and common sense to evaluate a citation, our system applies natural language understanding (NLU) techniques to estimate the likelihood that a claim can be inferred from a source. In NLU, a model translates human sentences (or words, phrases, or paragraphs) into complex mathematical representations. We’ve designed our tools to compare these representations in order to determine whether one statement supports or contradicts another.”
Meta says that the model, and its dataset of 134 million web pages, is now available via open-source to expand related research projects.
It’s an interesting project, with a range of potential use cases – and as more people become even more reliant on what they read on the web, any measures that can improve the accuracy of what’s displayed can only be a positive.
You can read more about Meta’s Sphere project here.
Elon Musk Sells of Tesla Stock in Preparation for Possible Twitter Deal
It seems that Elon Musk isn’t entirely confident that he’ll be able to pull out of his $44 billion Twitter takeover deal, with Musk reportedly selling almost $7 billion in Tesla stock in recent days in preparation for a transaction, if he is ordered to pay up.
As reported by The Wall Street Journal:
“Mr. Musk, Tesla’s chief executive and largest shareholder, sold around 7.9 million shares between Friday and Tuesday, the disclosures show, leaving him with a 15% stake in the company. The Tesla boss has been on a selling spree over the past year, during which he has cashed out roughly $32 billion worth of shares in the electric-vehicle maker.”
Musk has since confirmed the sell-off, explaining that:
In the (hopefully unlikely) event that Twitter forces this deal to close *and* some equity partners don’t come through, it is important to avoid an emergency sale of Tesla stock.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 10, 2022
The Musk/Twitter takeover is scheduled to be heard in the Delaware Court of Chancery in October, after Musk and his team sought to exit the deal based on Twitter’s inability to convince them that only 5% of its active users are fake/bot accounts.
In response, Twitter has outlined its ‘airtight’ case against Musk’s various claims, with the court scheduling an expedited trial based on Twitter’s counter evidence. Twitter’s counter filing has also suggested that this element is not a legal impediment to the closing of the deal, under its original terms.
That means that Musk’s takeover will come down to Musk’s legal team’s ability to convince the court that Twitter’s process of counting bots and fake accounts constitutes a material altering of the original terms of the proposal, which looks like it could be a difficult path to take.
Which is why Musk is now taking measures to prepare for a likely loss, which will eventually, probably, still see Musk become Tweeter in chief. Whether he wants to be or not.
Of course, you could also argue that this is due diligence, and that Musk is simply taking steps to ensure he’s covered, just in case he loses the case. Some have also suggested that Musk’s entire Twitter takeover bid has been an elaborate front in order to facilitate the sell off of Tesla stock options that were set to expire soon. These latest sell-offs could also play into that narrative, in enabling Musk to make even more money, without raising market concerns as he reduces his Tesla stake.
That’s super rich guy math, and I won’t even pretend to understand the complexities of how that might work – but it does seem like, at the least, Musk is slightly concerned that he’s not going to win his upcoming trial, and that he will indeed be forced to buy Twitter at his original agreed price.
Though Elon has also noted that he has a back-up plan, in case his Twitter deal falls through.
There’s nothing at X.com yet, but another Twitter user also shared this video clip in which Musk explained his plans for the website.
So Musk has a ‘pretty grand vision’ for what ‘X.com’, and ‘X Corporation’, could be, with Twitter helping to expedite that plan, whatever it is.
So even if Elon does lose his upcoming court case, he could still look to make bigger waves in the social media world – while it may also suggest that Twitter could become ‘X’ or something like it, in Elon’s broader plan.
Which kind of kills off this idea:
In any event, we’re now getting closer to a resolution one way or another, with the trial date looming, and Musk preparing for the next stage, whatever that may be.
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