535Media unveils AI startup MeSearch, with focus on reader-tailored experience

Posted Tuesday, February 18, 2020 at 4:00 pm

A Pittsburgh artificial intelligence startup built on decades of search technology launched Monday with an aim to change the way news is published, delivered and consumed online.

MeSearch, founded as a joint venture with 535Media, will start the first tests of its technology with Trib Total Media to provide neighborhood news, said Joe Lawrence, the company’s CEO and general counsel for Trib Total Media.

The company will move into space inside the D.L. Clark Building on Pittsburgh’s North Shore.

MeSearch uses artificial intelligence to identify content that readers want from a wide range of sources and puts it in front of them, Lawrence said. That could be a piece of journalism, user-generated content uploaded into the system, an ad or a piece of sponsored content created specifically for that reader.

“That’s what MeSearch does best, ” Lawrence said. “It finds the most relevant information, and it supplies it to the person who needs it the most.”

MeSearch’s AI will learn what type of information a reader wants and what days of the week or times of day readers want particular types of information. The website will then be tailored to show content to the reader based on what the AI has learned.

“Instead of going to a site, you are going to a personal experience, ” said Arthur Crivella, founder of Crivella Technologies Ltd., the Pittsburgh firm that developed the technology underlying MeSearch. “What we’re doing is learning. We’re using artificial intelligence to characterize a person’s interests.”

The technology is based on search algorithms developed by Crivella. His company has provided artificial intelligence, machine learning, statistical and data analysis, and other tools to lawyers to assist them with combing through thousands of documents in complex litigation. The algorithms can search for keywords in documents and then search for similarities between all the documents with those keywords and deliver results that the searcher may not have thought relevant when the query was first made.

The company has mapped over 2,500 human emotions based on the language we use, and its technology can reveal what’s behind what is said in emails or documents, Lawrence said.

Lawrence said he met Crivella through work with a law firm. As Crivella described his company’s search technology, Lawrence saw applications for it outside the legal profession.

The tech platform allows publishers to draw in content from many different sites or sources, users to generate content and be paid for it and readers to see exactly what they were looking for, even if they didn’t know what they were looking for in the first place, Lawrence said.

“It endeavors to match the user with the best content, ” Lawrence said. “It’s constantly searching, constantly learning, and the humans provide feedback.”

Lawrence and Crivella said MeSearch will empower content creators to participate in the content creation process.

“The creators get to share equally, and they are incentivized to bring their creative talent to the ecosystem, and that will change a lot of things, ” Lawrence said.

Lawrence said the details on how users will share in the value created by their content is being determined by beta testing, but it will be through a share of advertising revenue and eCommerce commissions.

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