Google is investing an additional $ 3.1 million in Wikipedia, bringing its total contribution to the free encyclopedia of more than $ 7.5 million over the last decade, the company said Tuesday at the World Economic Forum on Tuesday. A little over a third of these funds will go to support the current efforts of the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization that runs Wikipedia, and the remaining $ 2 million will be spent on long-term sustainability through staffing. the organization.
Google will also allow Wikipedia publishers to use free of charge several of its machine learning tools, said the technology giant. In addition, Wikimedia and Google will soon expand Project Tiger, a joint initiative launched in 2017 to increase the number of Wikipedia articles written in underrepresented languages in India and to include 10 new languages in a few countries and regions. It will now be called GLOW, the growing content of the local language on Wikipedia.
It is certainly positive that Google is investing more in Wikipedia, one of the most popular and reliable online resources in the world. But the decision is not altruistic: supporting Wikipedia is also a clever decision that will likely benefit Google in the years to come. Like other tech companies, including Amazon, Apple and Facebook, Google already uses Wikipedia content in a number of its own products. When you search for "Paris" in Google, a "knowledge panel" containing information about the city appears, some of which comes from Wikipedia. The company has also used Wikipedia articles to train machine learning algorithms and combat misinformation on YouTube.
Even efforts such as GLOW (which will now extend to Indonesia, Mexico and Nigeria, as well as the Middle East and North Africa) can contribute to Google's profitability. When the initiative was first launched in India, Google was providing Chromebooks publishers and the Internet, while the Center for Internet and Society and the Wikimedia India chapter were organizing a contest writing contest. three month articles, which created nearly 4,500 new Wikipedia articles in 12 different Indian languages. . The penetration of smartphones in India is only about 27%; As more and more people in the country start using Android smartphones and Google Search, these items will make the technology giant's products more useful. The Wikipedia blog announcing Google's new investment makes this strategy fairly clear, noting that the company has also provided Project Tiger with "information on popular Google search topics for which no local language content is non-existent or limited. on Wikipedia ».
Google is also providing Wikipedia with free access to its custom search API and Cloud Vision API, which will help volunteer editors of the encyclopedia more easily cite the facts they use. Whenever a Wikipedia publisher adds new information to an article, he must cite the source where he has learned it. The search API will allow them to quickly search for sources on the web without having to leave Wikipedia, while the vision tool will allow publishers to automatically scan books so that they can also be used for support of Wikipedia articles. Earlier this month, Wikimedia also announced that Google Translate would arrive on Wikipedia, allowing publishers to convert content into 15 additional languages, bringing the total number of 121 available.
Thanks to these machine learning tools, Wikipedia will be able to reach people who speak languages that are currently underrepresented on the Web. But the encyclopedia is also why many AI programs exist initially. For example, Jigsaw, a Google-owned company, partially used Wikipedia to train its artificial intelligence against open-source trolls. The encyclopedia is also used by hundreds of other AI platforms, not least because every Wikipedia article is under Creative Commons, which means that it can be reproduced for free without copyright restrictions. Apple's intelligent assistants Alexa, Siri and Amazon, use Wikipedia's information to answer questions, for example. (Both companies also donated to the Wikimedia Foundation.)
Google's new investments in Wikipedia, especially in GLOW, will solve a real problem. The majority of Wikipedia's dozens of millions of articles are in English or in European languages such as French, German and Russian. (There are also many articles in Swedish and two versions of Filipino, but most of these pages were created by a prolific bot). While it is estimated that half of the Earth's population still does not have access to the Internet, it is important that reliable information be available in spoken native languages. This does not mean that by helping to solve these problems, companies such as Google or Facebook, also have nothing to gain.