For its updated news application, Google is doubling down on the use of artificial intelligence as part of an effort to weed our disinformation and help users get viewpoints beyond their own “filter bubble.” Google chief Sundar Pichai, who unveiled the updated Google News earlier this month, said the app now “surfaces the news you care about from trusted sources while still giving you a full range of perspectives on events.” It marks Google’s latest effort to be at the centre of online news and includes a new push to help publishers get paid subscribers through the tech giant’s platform.
According to product chief Trystan Upstill, the news app “uses the best of artificial intelligence to find the best of human intelligence — the great reporting done by journalists around the globe.” While the app will enable users to get “personalized” news, it will also include top stories for all readers, aiming to break the so-called filter bubble of information designed to reinforce people’s biases. “Having a productive conversation or debate requires everyone to have access to the same information,” Upstill said. He said the “full coverage” feed would be the same for everyone — “an unpersonalized view of events from a range of trusted news sources.” Some journalism industry veterans were sceptical about the effort to replace human editors with machine curators. “There’s been a fantasy of (algorithmic) personalized news for a long time,” said New York University journalism professor Meredith Broussard.
“Nobody has ever gotten it right. I think that news designers and homepage editors do a good job of curating already.” Google and Facebook have also been criticized for scooping up most online ad revenues and for enabling false information to spread. Recently, News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson called for an “algorithm review board” that would “oversee these historically influential digital platforms and ensure that there is no algorithmic abuse or censorship.”