Pakistani tech company develops AI journalist

This still image introducing the first artificial intelligent news writer was taken from a YouTube video. (base H via YouTube)
Updated 03 November 2017
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Pakistani tech company develops AI journalist

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani tech company has developed an artificially intelligent journalist, the first of its kind, which can produce a complete news item in just a few seconds.

Dante is currently producing 350-word closing reports for the Pakistan Stock Exchange, as well as six-month charts and graphs showing market trends.

“This news-writing bot produces 100 percent original content in just two to three seconds after accessing relevant data from newswires, local and international media outlets,” Anis Shiekh, founder of baseH — the company that created Dante — told Arab News.

“It’s not going to replace reporters and editors. Rather, it will help newsroom staff carry out their work smoothly and quickly.”

Dante can automatically develop and maintain its own archive, and can provide context and background to articles.

“With Dante’s help, media outlets can produce endless original content as it neither sleeps nor tires,” Shiekh said, adding that it can easily produce content in different formats such as online, radio, print and television.

Content generated by Dante was shared with senior Pakistani journalists and editors for feedback.

“It was amazing,” Khurram Shahzad told Arab News. “It was so perfect that it hardly required any editing or even proofreading.”

The working prototype can quickly adapt to new writing styles, editorial policies and preferences, so it can easily be deployed anywhere.

Shiekh said numerous brokerage firms and media houses in Pakistan have expressed their interest in buying Dante, but baseH has decided to provide services via subscription only.

Regarding the company’s future plans, he said it is concentrating on tailoring Dante to produce content on the 2018 World Cup, and to write 700-800-word articles on various subjects, including sports, education, health, entertainment and foreign affairs.

“Our subscribers will be able to get original articles instantly on their required subject by just entering a few keywords related to the topic,” said Shiekh.

His company has been working on Dante since 2009, at a cost so far of more than 6 million Pakistani rupees ($56,980).


Bug may have exposed photos from 7M Facebook users

Updated 11 min 7 sec ago
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Bug may have exposed photos from 7M Facebook users

  • Facebook disclosed a photo glitch, saying it allowed some 1,500 software apps to access private photos for 12 days ending Sept. 25.
  • An Irish regulator said it was investigating Facebook following the company's disclosure that a bug may has exposed millions of private photos, the latest in a series of privacy glitches

NEW YORK: Facebook’s privacy controls have broken down yet again, this time through a software flaw affecting nearly 7 million users who had photos exposed to a much wider audience than intended.
The bug disclosed Friday gave hundreds of apps unauthorized access to photos that could in theory include images that would embarrass some of the affected users. They also included photos people may have uploaded but hadn’t yet posted, perhaps because they had changed their mind.
It’s not yet known whether anyone actually saw the photos, but the revelation of the now-fixed problem served as another reminder of just how much data Facebook has on its 2.27 billion users, as well has how frequently these slip-ups are recurring.
The bug is the latest in a series of privacy lapses that continue to crop up, despite Facebook’s repeated pledges to batten down its hatches and do a better job preventing unauthorized access to the pictures, thoughts and other personal information its users intend so share only with friends and family.
In general, when people grant permission for a third-party app to access their photos, they are sharing all the photos on their Facebook page, regardless of privacy settings meant to limit a photo to small circles such as family. The bug potentially gave developers access to even more photos, such as those shared on separate Marketplace and Facebook Stories features, as well as photos that weren’t actually posted.
Facebook said the users’ photos may have been exposed for 12 days in September. The company said the bug has been fixed.
The company declined to say how many of the affected users are from Europe, where stricter privacy laws took effect in May and could subject companies to fines. Facebook said it has notified the Irish Data Protection Commission of the breach.
The problem comes in a year fraught with privacy scandals and other problems for the world’s biggest social network.
Revelations that the data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed data from as many as 87 million users led to congressional hearings and changes in what sorts of data Facebook lets outside developers access. In June, a bug affecting privacy settings led some users to post publicly by default regardless of their previous settings. This bug affected as many as 14 million users over several days in May.
With each breakdown, Facebook risks losing credibility with both its audience and the advertisers whose spending generates most of the company’s revenue.
“It’s like they keep getting these chinks in the armor that is causing this trust deficit,” said Michael Priem, CEO of Modern Impact, which places ads for a variety of major brands.
Although Facebook doesn’t appear to be losing a lot of users, Priem said some advertisers have been seeing data indicating that people are spending less time on the social network. That’s raising concerns about whether the privacy breakdowns and problems with misinformation being spread on the services are taking a toll.
But it’s difficult to know how much Facebook’s recent wave of headaches has been affecting the service because its growth, particularly among younger people, had been slowing even before the problems began to crop up, said Nate Elliott, an analyst with the research firm Nineteen Insights.
Advertisers are unlikely to curtail their spending significantly as long as Facebook is able to maintain the current size of its audience, Elliott said. So far there has been little evidence a significant percentage of the users are worried enough about privacy to get off the service.
“Even if people don’t trust Facebook, as long as the value that the service provides is worth more than the cost of the privacy violations, then that may be a trade-off most people are willing to make,” Elliott said.
On Thursday, to counter the bad rap it’s gotten around privacy, Facebook hosted a one-day “pop-up” to talk to users about their settings and whatever else may be on their mind. Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan gave Facebook’s work on privacy a “B” when asked by a reporter for a grade. By 2019, she said she hopes the improvements will result in an “A.”
Privacy experts might call it grade inflation. In any case, the company has its work cut out before it makes the top grade. The company has had to increase how much it spends on privacy and security, which put a dent in its bottom line and in August contributed to a stock price plunge.