What is this?
This is a news aggregator site developed by a group of researchers at MIT and elsewhere to give you control of your news consumption, as explained in this 5-minute YouTube video:
Many news sites treat you and your attention as the product they sell to their advertisers, but this one is ad-free and eliminates cost through full automation.
Just as it’s healthier to choose what you eat deliberately rather than impulsively, it’s more empowering to chose your news diet deliberately with this app rather than to randomly read what marketers and machine-learning algorithms elsewhere predict that you’ll impulsively click on. You can make these deliberate choices about, stance, style, etc. by adjusting sliders, for 544 topics. Sliders make it quick and easy to find alternative viewpoints and become aware of how various media outlets bias coverage in different directions. This app was built on the belief that filter bubbles harm democracy, and that society benefits when we can understand other people's points of view.
How is this funded?
We have an ongoing research project lead by Prof. Max Tegmark (https://space.mit.edu/home/tegmark/home.html) on how machine learning can be used to classify news. Since this news aggregator is fully automated, running it as an ad-free public service costs us nothing except a very modestt cloud computing bill.
How does it work?
We’re planning to open-source our machine-learning algorithms on GitHub once they’re accepted for publication.
Won’t this contribute to filter bubbles?
There’s a rich scientific literature on how click-optimizing algorithms at Facebook, Google, etc. have polarized and divided society into groups that each get exposed only to ideas they already agree with. So won’t giving people choices such as the left-right slider on this site exacerbate the problem? Recent work from David Rand’s MIT group (https://psyarxiv.com/29b4j) suggests the opposite: that people become less susceptible to fake news and bias when given easy access to a range of information, enabling what Kahneman calls “system 2” deliberation instead of “system 1” impulsive clicking and reacting. Their work also suggests that many people are interested in opinions disagreeing with their own, if expressed in a nuanced and respectful way, but are rarely exposed to this. So perhaps we should not rush to blame consumers rather than providers of news.
How can I contact you with feedback?
This is work in progress, and as you can easily tell, there’s lots of room for improvement! Please help us make it better by providing your feedback here: http://improvethenews.com/index.php/feedback
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