Meta launches Sphere, a new AI knowledge tool

Not surprising that the first adopter could be Wikipedia.

words by: Sahar Khraibani
Jul 24, 2022

Facebook may be notorious for contributing to the phenomenon of “fake news,” but it has also made a considerable effort to put an end to it or at least combat it (though that battle seems to be never-ending). The most recent breakthrough on that front came from Facebook’s parent company Meta, which unveiled a brand-new tool called Sphere.


What is Sphere?

Sphere is an AI tool that was designed with the idea of using the massive amount of information available on the open web as a knowledge base for AI and other systems. According to Meta, Wikipedia is the first application for Sphere, where it is being used to automatically scan entries and determine if citations are highly or weakly supported.


According to Meta: the “new knowledge source, Sphere, uses open web data rather than traditional, proprietary search engines. That means other AI researchers can see into and control the corpus, so they can experiment with scaling and optimizing different methods to push retrieval technology forward. Sphere contains 134 million documents — split into 906 million passages of 100 tokens each — representing orders of magnitude more data than the knowledge sources considered in current KI-NLP research. Because Sphere can access far more public information than today’s standard models, it could provide useful information that they cannot.”


The rationale for adopting Sphere for Wikipedia is simple: Wikipedia currently has 6.5 million entries and an average of 17,000 new articles gets uploaded each and every month. While there is a team of editors tasked with overseeing the process, the concept is essentially based on the fact that adding and editing content is crowdsourced. This task becomes daunting both for its size and mandate, especially considering how many people rely on Wikipedia as a database of documentation.


Meta continues to be under the wrath of their bad rep partly due to accusations regarding misinformation and fake news which lead to toxic ideas. But because of that, launching something like Sphere feels close to a PR exercise for Meta while also being an extremely useful tool for the way we navigate information and the web.


So far, it seems that there is no financial agreement for this deal in place yet. But Wikipedia and Meta have been crossing paths a lot recently, as a team of editors has been using Meta’s AI-based language translation tool.


In other related news, Wikipedia editors have blocked crypto donations.


Photo via Meta