Facebook Acquires London Tech Firm

Facebook Acquires London Tech Firm

Silicon Valley might be the global leader when it comes to producing the latest technology in the world but London has its own thriving tech start-up scene. The UK might not yet have produced a tech start-up to rival the biggest that have come out of the USA in recent years but the big boys from across the pond are obviously impressed enough by some of the best London has to offer to be regularly snapping them up. The latest deal was announced yesterday by Facebook, with the social media giant acquiring London-based AI start-up Bloomsbury AI.

Bloomsbury are specialists in natural language processing AI algorithms and is one of the world leaders in the field. One of Facebook’s biggest challenges at present is managing to police the content published on its platform. That ranges from ‘fake news’ articles being distributed over it as well as user posts that can be considered discriminatory, derogatory or ‘hate speech’.

Like the other tech giants, Facebook is ploughing vast resources into developing AI algorithms to take over much of the platform’s administration needs. However, much of the underlying technology it is experimenting with is still not advanced enough to replace human administrators. One of the company’s most significant expenses is the contractors it employs around the world to assess content for suitability once it has been flagged by users.

Ideally, Facebook would like to automate the process of reviewing each and every post for suitability without having to rely on them first being flagged, removing those that fall outside of its guidelines.

The problem is that language has proven to be one of AI’s greatest challenges. It doesn’t fit the ‘defined rules’ environment that Machine Learning-based AI thrives in. Often the meaning of language lies in context as much as the words themselves, making it very difficult to run algorithms that can reliably pick up offensive text.

Bloomsbury AI specialises in “machine reading and understanding unstructured documents in natural language in order to answer any question.” Sebastian Riedel, one of its co-founders is also one of the driving forces behind another start-up, Factmata. Factmata was created to help online publishers identify fake news. While the exact reasoning behind the acquisition is not 100% clear it can be presumed that Facebook sees Bloomsbury AI’s technology as an upgrade on current in-house solutions to banned content monitoring automation.

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