Andrea Kocsis from the Department of Archaeology joined BT for six months, investigating how to curb the spread of disinformation and fake news using coding skills. In her report, she told us about her experience, and the impact she hopes it will have on her future career:

“I chose to work with BT on this fellowship because it combined my skills and interests with my envisioned career path. I hoped to improve in my coding skills and gain insight into the daily life at a large technological company.

As a researcher, I am interested in nationalism, misinformation and fringe theories, which I research with the help of digital methods, such as Natural Language Processing (NLP). I consider fake news and misinformation one of the biggest challenges of our era and I wanted to contribute to solving this problem. The fellowship project offered by BT focused on the detection of misinformation with the help of machine learning which was a perfect match for my profile.

The aims of the fellowship were to find methods to automate detecting misinformation about 5G on Twitter, and writing a scientific paper out of it. The project had several steps: collecting 5G-related tweets, classifying them manually based on their content., writing a script classifying them computationally, and measuring how successful the automated classification was by checking it against the manual version . The longer term aim is to integrate the results into a software which is able to catch those tweets about 5G which can trigger direct aggression.

I learnt new skills relevant to the technical industry, such as improved coding skills. I also gained a new understanding of 5G misinformation, as well as I discovered technical possibilities of tackling 5G fake news spreading on Twitter. I learnt technical presentation skills, using WEKA software and machine learning-based analyses, such as topic modelling and random forest classification. I also won the first stage of the PresentIn10 competition of the Institute of Engineering and Technology in Digital Futures category. Finally, I am writing an IEEE conference paper and a humanities paper on my work with my BT supervisor.

The fellowship had a great impact on my future career as it showed I was suitable not only for humanities related careers but I can find myself in the world of technology as well. I plan to look for jobs similar to my fellowship position. Coming from a humanities background, I had to learn a lot about how technological research is done. It was easy to settle in and my supervisor provided me with great support and a clear timeline. My academic knowledge helped me to revise research projects and do literature review. Outside of my academic knowledge, I also brought my quick learning skills and efficient problem solving to the project.

I would advise prospective applicants to the Grand Challenges Scheme not to hesitate in applying. I was very satisfied with the placement in its current form, and would definitely recommend it. It was an important step in my career and in my professional development.”

Andrea Kocsis’s fellowship with BT took place between March and September 2021.

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