Using Perplexity AI for Quick News Analysis

While browsing through my social media news feed, I came across a news article claiming that a Philippine diplomat issued a warning that nuclear war could erupt over tensions in the West Philippine Sea.

I found the claim doubtful. Mainly because it resembled propaganda from Filipinos sympathizing with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Such alarmist claims are now boilerplates of their social media posts.

Better than just Google

Being somewhat unsettled by the news article, I ran it by Perplexity AI.  Rather than hunting down the source of the statement using Google. In a snap, I got the answer I was looking for.

In a previous post, I said this is one of the AI tools I can’t live without these days.

Perplexity AI is an AI-powered search engine and research tool that provides comprehensive answers to queries by compiling information from multiple web sources.

Below is the query I sent Perplexity and its reply:

Question: Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez warned of nuclear war because of south china sea tensions, it seems out of character to me. Could this be a misinformation campaign?

Perplexity: The search results indicate that Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Manuel Romualdez has indeed warned of the possibility of nuclear war due to the escalating tensions between the Philippines and China over the disputed Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea.[1][2][4]

Romualdez stated that “it’s the most dangerous time… weapons of mass destruction are very real. You have several countries, major powers that have large arsenals of nuclear power.”[1][2] He drew an analogy to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand that sparked World War I, suggesting a small incident in the South China Sea could similarly trigger a wider regional conflict involving nuclear-armed powers.[1][2][4]

However, the search results also provide context that casts doubt on the likelihood of such an extreme outcome. The article notes that U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said “war, a fight with China is neither imminent nor unavoidable”.[5] It also points out that the U.S. has not intervened militarily in the South China Sea disputes so far, despite warnings about invoking the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.[4][5]

Additionally, the article suggests Romualdez’s warnings may be partly motivated by a desire to maintain international attention on the Philippines’ disputes with China, as the world’s focus has shifted away from such regional tensions.[5]

So in summary, while Romualdez has indeed raised the specter of nuclear war, the broader context indicates this may be an exaggerated or strategic framing of the situation, rather than a realistic assessment. The search results do not conclusively confirm this is part of a misinformation campaign, but they provide reasons to be skeptical of the ambassador’s most dire warnings.[1][2][4][5]

[1] Philippine ambassador raises spectre of nuclear war with China
[2] Philippines warns of region-wide conflict over South China Sea reef …
[3] Philippine ambassador to US suggests use of US bases in China …
[4] Philippine ambassador warns of Asia-wide conflict due to South …
[5] Will China frictions lead to nuclear war in Asia? | The Manila Times

Perplexity’s main product is its search engine, which offers both quick answers and a more detailed “Pro Search” mode. In Pro-Search, you can engages in a back-and-forth to fine-tune results. It can search the web, analyze uploaded files, and even generate images.

As of early 2024, Perplexity has about 10 million monthly users and has raised $165 million in funding.


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