U.S. sentiment analysis (The Glass House 25/10/06)

The US Department of Homeland Security is developing software to monitor negative opinions of the US or its leaders in overseas media, in order to identify potential threats. Great. Now the US will invade you if you have WMDs – Words of Much Disliking.

The software looks for patterns from numerous sources of information that might be indicative of potential threats to the nation. So when all the newspapers in Luxembourg call President Bush a doofus – it’s clearly time to bomb the crap out of them. / look out, they’re going to attack!

The software’s being put together by a consortium of US universities. So far the biggest threat it’s identified has been US universities.

They want to distinguish the intensity of the rhetoric against them, whether it’s just “dislike” or “excoriate”. For instance, I dislike Bush, but I’m going to need a dictionary before I excoriate him. / but to excoriate him, I’ll need a good dictionary.

But it’s not “We hate America” that they need to watch out for – it’s “The bombs are on their way”.

Of course it’s pointless to monitor phrases like “I have guns” or “I like to shoot things”, as this covers most Americans.

The software will look out for warning phrases like “I watch SBS”, “foreigners aren’t that bad”, and “I quite like falafels”.

You’ve got to choose your words carefully: phrases like “I’m going to cut down that out-of-control bush” are likely to get you bombed.

It’s a good way of Bush being able to tell if he’s pissing off the right countries / if he’s successfully pissing off the countries he’s trying to provoke.

They’ve been testing the system on hundreds of articles published using the term “axis of evil” – the phrase seemed to go down particularly badly in Iraq, Iran and North Korea…

Test results from the software have identified key threats including North Korea, France, and The Glass House.

Problem is, if we’re judging a country by it’s criticism of US policy, then the entire world is the enemy – including most of the US!

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