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CSE’s Oren Etzioni on Wavii in NY Times

“Facebook has transformed how we keep tabs on friends, by training people to constantly publish short status updates about the delicious meal they just ate or the killer vacation they just took.  A site called Wavii opened to the public earlier this week that wants to do the same thing for topics, with short bursts of news on everything from corporate acquisitions to celebrities.

Wavii, based in Seattle, works by scouring the Web, including news sites, Twitter and blogs, for news about a vast number of topics.  It then automatically creates the equivalent of a status update on the topic that summarizes the news, often in just one sentence, with a link to the full story on the site from which the news originated.  Wavii users see a Facebook-like feed with updates on all the news topics they follow.

“Using machines, rather than human editors, to summarize the news in a faithful way is a big technical challenge, according Oren Etzioni, a professor of computer science at the University of Washington, who is also an adviser to Wavii.  ‘They have state-of-the-art information extraction technology which allows them to do this is,’ said Mr. Etzioni, who is a specialist in the field of artificial intelligence.”

Read more here.