Salthill native entrepreneur named in Top 40 Irish in USA

New York-based Salthill native Jack Stenson has been honoured as one of the top 40 Irish/Irish American leaders currently living in the USA.

Stenson (31 ) who attended Coláiste Iognáid and NUIG, received the award because of his initiative in founding and developing a real-time news checking computer programme, Voyc.

Each year, the Irish Echo, the oldest community-based newspaper in America, hosts the awards which recognise Irish and Irish Americans who have distinguished themselves in their field.

At a panel discussion on the future of the media, hosted by the Irish tech conference group, Digital Irish, Stenson formed the idea to build a real-time TV news fact-checker. His aim was to produce a new AI programme that could instantly translate voice to text, then read and understand that text – all in real time. It then compares the spoken ‘fact’ to already known and digitally stored real facts, which could alert a news presenter if the person being interviewed was playing fast and loose with the truth.

Stenson, product and innovation lead at Sparksgrove/North Highland, put the idea to a number of developers in his team who are experienced in artificial intelligence (AI ), and within a week had formed a detailed plan as to how this could be done.

Stenson said; “Once I had proven to my company that one, this was novel, and two, clients were interested, we began development of a proof of concept (early stage prototype ) which was internally funded. By the end of summer 2018, I had more than 40 top media executives and professionals who had inputted into how it would work, with many waiting on a product to trial. These included CTOs, VPs, top news directors, and producers (with a combined eight Emmy awards ) as well as award winning journalists in the US, UK, and Ireland.

“And so we come to Voyc, a fully-automated voice scanning tool that empowers presenters and producers to correct misinformation live on air. It can also alert journalists to news stories before they break on Twitter. A subscribing sports journalist can be alerted to the words ‘Liverpool’ and ‘transfer’ being used in a conversation on a little known radio station.”

Stenson has presented Voyc to large numbers of media and business leaders at North Highland Imagine If… presentations in New York, Atlanta, and London, as well as in meetings with senior executives of Time Warner, CNN, Comcast, NBC, BBC, Dow Jones, Facebook, Google, Newscorp, and numerous media organisations which have expressed strong interest in using Voyc. The Wall Street Journal published an interview with him which led to strong interest among the broadcasting and business communities in the US.

Stenson says; “TV networks are losing vast sums of advertising revenue because a lack of trust means fewer and fewer people are tuning into their news programmes: these companies are prepared to pay a lot of money if someone can find a way to reverse this trend.”

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