Today’s “always on” environment, together with social media, really does give us the ability to hear anything said by anyone, anywhere, anytime. Ironically, this flood of material makes it difficult to know what is actually true! Knowing the believability and accuracy of what we read, hear and see is important around the world -- and no less important for us here in the world’s leading democracy.
Fact checking is the process of verifying what someone has said, and then receiving a rating about the accuracy of the ‘fact.’ Fact checking enables us to sort through a tidal wave of massive information and communication.
Some fact checking services exist, but none are instant.
Fact checking today is done mostly by qualified humans. It’s a laborious, time-consuming process that is not easy, quick, cheap or comprehensive. There simply aren’t enough journalism researchers with the skills to verify all the claims made by our political candidates and public figures. It often takes a day or more to verify the accuracy of statements, especially in the context that they were made. And as time elapses, the truth moves further and further away from us.
The critical time to know if political claims and statements are accurate is now -- as we read or view it. Therefore, the breakthroughs sought in this prize are those that improve speed of results in fact checking.
Challenge Guidelines updated 3 October 2016.
The prize offers a total purse of US$50,000 in a competition to develop faster ways to check facts through automation-- whether instantaneous, or just faster than humans can check. This breakthrough will enable people to know if something they see or hear is accurate when it’s most relevant: ASAP.
We invite you or your team to create a solution to increase timeliness of fact checking. We encourage teams to leverage the power of computers, of search technologies, software algorithms, machine learning, natural language processing technologies, crowdsourced checking, data science, voice intonation or facial emotion analyses, chatbots, and even existing technologies such as Facebook’s anti-fake news tool.
TRUTH RATING - How true is a claim or statement? Your solution must assign a “truth rating” to each claim or statement tested and achieve at least 80% accuracy for the competition overall.
To be eligible for an award. The truth rating must use the following scale:
Creation of Truth Rating. Teams have 2 options to create the Truth Rating. Teams may choose only one option for answering all claims:
To push available technology ahead a quickly as possible, this allowance for a human-assigned Truth Rating will be accepted if teams choose option A. For option A, teams may still only input the claim into their software and must receive all results by automated means, however, they may use human input to analyze these results and assign a Truth Rating.
AUTOMATION- automated fact checking will revolutionize our society. Your solution must be automated to be eligible for an award. Only the following tasks can be completed by a person:
FAST AND FURIOUS - The fastest solution to assign accurate “truth ratings” via automation will win. It’s that simple.
The challenge has three parts:
The competition is your canvas! Teams will submit a description of their approach to increase the speed of fact checking. This can include the technologies and tools they will leverage, any original pieces of technology in process or fully created, the intent/vision for their solution, and a description of how these elements will be developed into their entry. Teams may cite prior work or work that team members have undertaken as part of their description.
Teams are encouraged to provide a clear picture of the method used to develop their submission, as well as the intended features and strengths of the solution. Entrants may submit written descriptions, technical descriptions, results of outcomes, as well as photos, drawings, video, comparative examples, and/or other media. A maximum of 1,500 words (approximately 3 pages) is allowed for the submission.
FACT CHECKING SPEED TEST
All registered innovators participate in a real time race to check the truth behind stated claims. Innovators will receive a series of quizzes (consisting of multiple claims) in which they must use their automated solution to determine the truth (and assign a “truth rating” if elected) to each claim in the quiz, and submit their answers in the fastest time possible while achieving at least 80% accuracy over the course of the competition. Winners will be selected based on the team that scores the highest RABBIT marks - awarded based on speed of accurate answers.
Quiz release dates and times are outlined below in "Quiz Schedule". Teams will check each claim in the quiz and determine if it is TRUE, Somewhat TRUE, Somewhat FALSE, or FALSE. Teams also have the option to copy and paste their automated justification into the submission form if they elect this option (Option A). Results may only be submitted to HeroX as a batch (answer all the claims in a quiz at the same time). Each quiz will be given an expiration, and after this time no further submissions for the quiz will be allowed. Teams can submit only once per batch.
Scoring will be based on both accuracy and speed of results for each quiz.
The fastest submissions will be considered in this order:
Note that “second degree correct” answers will count toward the minimum accuracy achievement of 80%, regardless of whether RABBIT marks are awarded.
Optional Practice Runs will be held prior to the start of the Fact Checking Speed Test. This is solely for the purpose of enabling teams to test their software and submission posting process. None of these results will count toward the Speed Rating.
Once the Fact Checking Speed Tests are completed, the top placing teams must provide a write up detailing their solution and verify the use of automation to achieve their results. These teams must submit proof of automation to the Judges to confirm that results were achieved via automated (not manual) means. Upon request, teams will have three calendar days to submit their proof of automation. Teams must prove automation in order to be eligible for an award. Teams will be required to demonstrate automation using only the Truth Rating creation method chosen. Any team who cannot verify automation will be disqualified from the competition, regardless of their results.
An automated solution is one which the solution does not require human involvement, with the exception of the following tasks:
The burden for proof of automation will rest upon the teams. Each fact checking solution will be unique, thus teams must determine the best means to prove automation to the judges for their unique solution. The following examples may or may not be sufficient to substantiate your unique solution:
Judges may request additional information or additional testing to verify automation if your provided material is inconclusive or insufficient.
Prizes will be awarded to the teams with the fastest Speed Rating who achieve at least 80% accuracy (and receive a Pass for verifying automated results):
1st Place: $40,000 for fastest Speed Rating
2nd Place: $10,000 for second fastest Speed Rating
Tiebreakers for the prize award will be based on the speed of checking the most difficult claims. The Judging panel will pre-identify and designate a subset of the most “difficult” claims as tiebreakers. The tiebreaker status of the claims will not be disclosed unless a tie occurs. The team with the most RABBIT ratings for these claims will be the winner.
Claims to be tested will include, but are not limited to, information about/provided by either U.S. politicians or public figures. Fact checking will be tested for a variety of fact checking elements. Please see the list of Practise Claims for more information.
The results of the competition will be leveraged and promoted by a respected media figure. Diane Francis is an award-winning columnist, author, investigative journalist, television commentator, and screenplay writer. She is Editor-at-Large at Canada’s National Post and writes for the US Edition of the Huffington Post. Ms. Francis intends to pursue partnerships and collaborations with key media and journalism partners once the competition has concluded. These partnerships will spur the use and trust in fact checking.
Post-prize activities may include efforts to secure additional grants or funding for the technology and to commercialize the winning solution developed in the competition. Teams competing in this Challenge will retain control of their IP, but also agree to provide access to their technology in the form of a licensing agreement, or, receive a stake in a commercial enterprise in exchange for use of their technology (assuming they are the eventual 1st or 2nd place winner). Exact terms of any partnership will be mutually negotiated.
The Judging panel will determine the correct answer to each claim, and will determine the accuracy rating by which teams results are compared. Although some degree of interpretation in unavoidable, particularly between True and Somewhat True (or False and Somewhat False), the Judging panel’s determination of the correct answer will be used as the standard by which team submissions are judged.
Automated fact checking is defined as the use of non-human means to check, research, and/or provide context to the claim. However humans may input the claims on the quizzes manually into the software and initiate the checking. Humans may also take the results rendered and post/submit the results.
For validation of automation, Judges will use videoconference, in-person meetings, and/or technical reviews of the team’s entry to confirm achievement via automation (not human fact checking). If needed, the Judges will ask for the team to run test claims. The results of these test claims will not count toward the prize award, but will be used to verify eligibility for a prize award. For crowdsourcing, teams must show that the “crowd” is truly a large group of people without any special expertise in fact checking. Judges may call upon outside technical experts to assist with this validation.
November 6, 11:59 pm ET
November 7 - December 9
Fact Check Speed Testing
December 12, 11:59 pm ET
Validation Phase materials due from finalists
December 15 - January 28
January 29, 2017
The challenge is open to all individuals, private teams, public teams, and collegiate teams. Teams may originate from any country.
No specific qualifications or expertise in working with journalism, media, publishing, fact checking, political research, software, computers or other technology development is required. Challenge organizers encourage outside individuals and non-expert teams to compete and propose new solutions. To give new and innovative ideas due consideration, the judging panel may include individuals who are not subject matter experts in any of these fields.
To be eligible to compete, you must comply with all the terms of the challenge as defined in the Challenge-Specific Agreement.
Registration and Submissions:
Submissions must be made online (only), via upload to the HeroX.com website. Teams will be notified of the availability of quizzes for fact checking per a predefined schedule. Quizzes will be posted on or after these dates/times.
Submissions must be made in English. All prize-related communication will be in English.
Selection of Winners:
Based on the winning criteria, 2 prizes will be awarded per the Judging Criteria section above. A qualified Judging Panel will determine winners.
The determination of the winners will be made by a group of people including thought leaders, influencers, and people with unique insight for computational journalism and fact checking, as well as technology development in these areas. Judges will have expertise in journalism, media, publishing, fact checking, political research, software or other technology development areas.
As importantly, the Judging Panel may also include judges who have expertise in new forms of potential technology/innovation, the psychology in media, or crowd source development, but who have no background or experience related to fact checking. The intent of including these individuals is to proliferate approaches which are available but not necessarily adopted or leveraged by ordinary users -- both of which will move the field forward.
Challenge Guidelines are subject to change. Registered competitors will receive notification when changes are made, however, we highly encourage you to visit the challenge page often to review updates.