December 14, 2017

Finnish news goes robotic with Google funding

The Digital News Initiative Innovation Fund was created by Google to support innovation in digital journalism.
The Digital News Initiative Innovation Fund was created by Google to support innovation in digital journalism.
Lehtikuva / Westend61 / Anna Huber

Finnish media organisations have received substantial funding from Google’s Digital News Initiative (DNI) for their respective innovative digital journalism projects.

Finland’s foremost daily Helsingin Sanomat was recipient of the largest sum from DNI: 490 000 euros. This will be used for the development of a content recommendation system that uses machine learning to optimise content suggestions.

Elsewhere, the Finnish news agency STT landed 220 000 euros for its U-bot robot, which uses AI and machine learning to write news stories. This follows the capital boost STT enjoyed from the previous DNI funding round, for a news alert system that sifts through data from different sources and is also included in the U-bot concept.

“The aim of news robotics is to move manual labour from a human to a machine,” says STT news developer Maija Lappalainen. “In this project, besides writing news, we move the creation of text templates used by the robot to the machine as well.”

Two additional Finnish media organisations had a reason to smile with the fourth DNI funding round. Alma Media is harnessing AI to optimise user notifications and Mediakunta is developing a new international business model for the billing of freelance journalists and media professionals.

The DNI Innovation Fund has so far assigned in excess of 90 million euros to more than 450 projects in 29 European countries.

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