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Yahoo's Nick D'Aloisio: our news algorithm isn't good enough to replace humans…YET

James Temperton
8 May 2014
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Yahoo multimillionaire says he is enjoying working for Yahoo as news app gets Android release

Multimillionaire teenager Nick D'Aloisio has said Yahoo's news algorithm still needs help from humans but has admitted the company is getting closer and closer to developing code that requires "zero humans".

Yahoo paid an estimated £18m for D'Aloisio's news aggregation app Summly last year, making the then 17 year-old one of the world's youngest self-made millionaires. D'Aloisio has now launched Yahoo News Digest for Android, with the aim of bringing short twice-daily news bulletins to smartphones.

Yahoo News Digest works by using an algorithm to curate a summary of top news by collating information from articles, maps, Wikipedia entries, videos and photos. The algorithm is supported by a group of human Yahoo editors based in the UK, USA and Malaysia.

Yahoo News Digest for Android

D'Aloisio said that while the algorithm the app used was good, it still needed humans to make the news relevant:

"Artificial intelligence doesn't have natural language understanding. The goal of editors is to decide which stories are included in the digest."

Asked if the algorithm would ever be good enough to create news stories without any human intervention D'Aloisio said it wasn't "there yet", explaining that computers failed to understand context and nuance.

"It doesn't make sense to have no humans. We don't need to go to zero humans," he said.

D'Aloisio said he was "enjoying" working for Yahoo and that the company had been "very supportive" of his ideas. Yahoo has been attempting to turn around its fortunes by investing heavily in new products and services for smartphones, while the company also recently announced it was working on two web-only TV series.

As well as Yahoo News Digest, the company has also launched its Yahoo Sports app in the UK today. The company said it wanted to make apps that were "fast, personalised and mobile".

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