Sameena Shah: News you can trust

Woman reading news at a cafe table.
Image by Jean Luc (Jarrick) from Pixabay
Image by Jean Luc (Jarrick) from Pixabay 

by Paul Curzon, Queen Mary University of London

Having reliable news always matters to us: whether when disasters strike, of knowing for sure what our politicians really said, or just knowing what our favourite celebrity is really up to. Nowadays social networks like Twitter and Facebook are a place to find breaking news, though telling fact from fake-news is getting ever harder. How do you know where to look, and when you find something how do you know that juicy story isn’t just made up?

One way to be sure of stories is from trusted news-providers, like the BBC, but how do they make sure their stories are real. A lot of fake news is created by Artificial Intelligence bots and Artificial Intelligence is part of the solution to beat them.

Sameena Shah realised this early on. An expert in Artificial Intelligence, she led a research team at news provider Thomson Reuters. They provide trusted information for news organisations worldwide. To help ensure we all have fast, reliable news, Sameena’s team created an Artificial Intelligence program to automatically discover news from the mass of social networking information that is constantly being generated. It combines programs that process and understand language to work out the meaning of people’s posts – ‘natural language processing’ – with machine learning programs that look for patterns in all the data to work out what is really news and most importantly what is fake. She both thought up the idea for the system and led the development team. As it was able to automatically detect fake news, when news organisations were struggling with how much was being generated, it gave Thomson Reuters a head-start of several years over other trusted news companies.

Sameena’s ideas and work putting them in to practice has helped make sure we all know what’s really happening.

(This is an updated version of an article that first appeared in Issue 23 of the CS4FN magazine “The women are (still) here”)

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EPSRC supports this blog through research grant EP/W033615/1. 

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