Wikipedia
Wikipedia

The world is filled with bad news these days. Tragedy is second only to scandal when it comes to the media’s favorite thing to report. As such, negativity dominates the news cycle. Even when people are looking for positive, feel-good stories, they usually have to dig through innumerable tales of tragedy, hate, sadness and cruelty.

Google is looking to make it a little easier for those who want good news to find it. The internet giant has launched a new feature for its artificial intelligence system, Google Assistant, that is meant to filter out negative news from the searches of those who do not want to see it. To activate the feature, users ask their phones, Google Home or other enabled device to “tell me something good.” The AI will then respond with a story about real people who have done something good.

The feel-good stories are not only about random acts of kindness or cute animals either. According to Ryan Burke, a creative producer at Google’s Creative Lab, the AI will focus on bringing users reports of people who are successfully solving problems in the world today. “Solutions journalism empowers and energizes audiences,” Burke said. “[This] help[s] to combat negative news fatigue. It’s an important part of a balanced news diet, so we’re exploring how to incorporate more solutions journalism whenever you access Google News.”

The stories are pulled from a variety of media outlets, but they are curated and summarized by the Solutions Journalism organization. The organization aims to report on responses to social problems and “rebalance the news, so that every day people are exposed to stories that help them understand problems and challenges, and stories that show potential ways to respond.”

Those at Google are hopeful that their partnership with Solutions Journalism will help keep user’s spirits up. “These days we’re consuming more news than ever, and sometimes, it can feel like there are only problems out there,” Burke said. “But the fact is, there is a plethora of ‘good news’ happening, and we’re not talking about unlikely animal friendships or random acts of kindness. Real people are making progress solving real issues–and hearing about those stories is a crucial part of a balanced media diet.”

Hopefully, the filter-on-request feature of Google’s AI can help people find some light in their lives and remember that the world is never quite as dark as it may appear.

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