Valtteri the Election Bot generates news in three languages

After several months of intensive work, the Immersive Automation team is now ready to present its first prototype, Valtteri the election bot. Just in time for the municipal elections in Finland, Valtteri writes short pieces of news, in three languages, based on the election results. 

As the Immersive Automation project studies the automation of editorial processes, it was necessary for us to create a prototype, which could illustrate the difficulties of automation and guide us along our journey towards future news ecosystems. Data analyst and doctoral student Leo Leppänen at the Department of Computer Science specialises in language technology, and he is the brains behind Valtteri. Over the past couple of months, he has programmed and developed Valtteri with the assistance of the other researchers in the IA-team.

“This is our first prototype. The point is to manually create a system which can indicate to us where machine learning could later be most useful and profitable,” he says.

Valtteri utilises data from the Finnish Ministry of Justice and combines the data with templates created by the research team.

“This probably sounds very simple and easy, but for a computer this includes some major challenges. The computer does not know what useful and interesting information is, and the amount of data is massive. The human brain possesses vast amounts of information, whereas the computer has no other knowledge than the things we have taught it,“ he further explains.

After the municipal elections, the research team will gather feedback and analyse the user experiences.

“The next step will be to find all that essential knowledge humans have and transfer it into Valtteri. Our main challenge is that a computer is a slow learner and needs plenty of examples to learn from,” Leppänen says.

He also points out that this is an experiment and a first prototype, and thus a fairly simple system.

You can find Valtteri the newsbot at vaalibotti.fi. The bot works in Finnish, Swedish, and English.

 

The research partners in the Immersive Automation project the Department of Computer Science at University of Helsinki (the Discovery research group), the Swedish School of Social Sciences at University of Helsinki and VTT.

For more information about Valtteri the Election Bot and the Immersive Automation project, contact 

 

 

10.04.2017 - 07:40 Hannu Toivonen
07.04.2017 - 09:17 Hannu Toivonen