Wednesday, December 2, 7:00am - 8:00am
100 Nedderman Hall, UT Arlington campus


ClaimBuster: The Quest to Automate Fact-Checking

Chengkai Li, Ph.D.

Assoc. Professor, Computer Science & Engineering
Director, Innovative Database and Information Systems Research Laboratory
University of Texas at Arlington

During this time of presidential campaigning, candidates often play fast and loose with facts. How can voters determine if a candidate's statements are true, partially true or completely false? That's the goal of ClaimBuster, a fact-checking system under development at UT Arlington through grants from the National Science Foundation and the Knight Foundation. It uses machine learning and natural language processing techniques to help journalists find political claims to fact-check. Still in development, the prototype of ClaimBuster was tested in real-time during recent Democratic and Republican debates. Closed captions of the debates were fed to ClaimBuster, which immediately found claims that should be checked and posted them to the project's Twitter account. Post hoc analysis of the claims checked by CNN, and showed that many of them were also deemed check-worthy by ClaimBuster, suggesting a statistically significant agreement between ClaimBuster and media professionals. ClaimBuster is now monitoring Twitter posts and retweeting important factual claims it finds.

In this presentation, Dr. Li will describe the ideas behind ClaimBuster, its data collection process, the experience with recent debates, and the quest for the “Holy Grail” - a completely automated fact-checking machine that detects and verifies or disputes claims as they are spoken.

Chengkai Li received his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research interests are in several areas related to big data and data science, including database and data mining. Professor Li's papers have appeared in prestigious conferences and journals. He has also been a reviewer for multiple prestigious journals, as well as a grant review panelist for the National Science Foundation. He received HP Labs' Innovation Research Awards in 2011 and 2012.

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