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Real-Time Fact Checking With "Truth Teller"

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the you-can't-handle-the-truth dept.

Politics 149

The Washington Post has announced a prototype news application called "Truth Teller", that displays “TRUE" or “FALSE” in real time next to video of politicians as they speak. The Knight Foundation-funded program automatically transcribes speeches and checks the statements against a database of facts. From the article: "For now, the early beta prototype has to be manually hand-fed some facts, and thus only works on topics it has been specifically designed to recognize. Since Congress has yet to pass a budget, and financial discussions are prone to widespread lies and misstatements, Truth Teller is being piloted on the issue of tax policy."

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Check truth in political speech (5, Funny)

mwvdlee (775178) | about a year and a half ago | (#42748443)

So basically they've made a static page with the word "FALSE" on it.

Re:Check truth in political speech (2)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about a year and a half ago | (#42748539)

Exactly. I've got one for sale now - no need to bother with a Beta. :)

Re:Check truth in political speech (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42748715)

This is WaPo. They'll use this to selectively enforce or dispute statements per their agendas. They're a bit like the MSNBC of the print world.

Who if you haven't seen, was caught AGAIN this week, editing video to create a damning situation consistent with their political motives.

Re:Check truth in political speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42750809)

Meanwhile you ignore how Fox News has been caught numerous times doing the same thing.

Hey, look who's selectively representing things to support their own agenda!

Re:Check truth in political speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42751021)

WTF? We need a treatment for "Liberal Derangement Syndrome", it's easy to recognize, the sufferers are the only ones who think that Fox News matters...at all.

Seriously, how the hell did Fox News get into this?

Re:Check truth in political speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42751089)

WTF? We need a treatment for "Liberal Derangement Syndrome", it's easy to recognize, the sufferers are the only ones who think that Fox News matters...at all.

Seriously, how the hell did Fox News get into this?

It's their default argument, it just comes out automatically, regardless. It's their mantra, especially since they can't kick around Bush so much anymore.

The AC above claims Fox News has been caught doing this _numerous_ times. Well, I say, cite two examples where they edited a video to promote their agenda.

Re:Check truth in political speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42751431)

Ron Paul supporters at the RNC in Florida.

Occupy Wall St protests in NYC.

John Edwards calls them out on this shit all the damn time.

Here's one for the entire MSM:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adnan_Hajj_photographs_controversy

Re:Check truth in political speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42751573)

Check the insurmountable number of times Fox edited video of Hillary Clinton's hearings about Benghazi.

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-january-24-2013/grill-hill---benghazi-sound-bites

Re:Check truth in political speech (3, Insightful)

arbiter1 (1204146) | about a year and a half ago | (#42748879)

they don't exactly lie, they do speak the truth if you look at numbers they usually quote in a certain way. they just usually leave out the ones that would make them look bad. The truth they speak of is just on the numbers that make them look good. Like the 4 million job's Obama claims to have created. This video explains it all. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQLreUCRYXM [youtube.com]

Re:Check truth in political speech (0, Flamebait)

flyneye (84093) | about a year and a half ago | (#42749273)

I'd like to point out, as well, that the database needs to be accurate to begin with.
Since this application is coming from a Newsclown source, I have zero faith.
Nothing to see in this article...sigh...

Re:Check truth in political speech (0)

Jawnn (445279) | about a year and a half ago | (#42750121)

"Insightful". Really? No substance and only a grammar school name-calling now counts as insight?
You keep using that word...

Re:Check truth in political speech (2)

N1AK (864906) | about a year and a half ago | (#42749407)

Although it is certainly true that mis-leading is a bigger issue than lying I think you underestimate how many false statements are made by politicians. Sure this wouldn't solve the whole issue, and there is a massive risk regarding who decides what is true/false and their bias, but it could help bring more honesty into politics (or at least highlight who the most honest politicians are).

Re:Check truth in political speech (0)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42750583)

they don't exactly lie

Yes, they exactly lie. They exactly lie all the time. Obama lied when he said he would put an end to the abuses of the Bush administration. He lied when he said he would close Guantanamo. He lied when he said he would have the most transparent administration in history. He lied when he swore an oath to defend the Constitution.

And that was supposed to be our hope for change.

Re:Check truth in political speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42750679)

Not to point out, but his entire administration and election is based on lies and misinformation...

Re:Check truth in political speech (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42750999)

It's the same with every president. They are all based on nothing but lies.

Re:Check truth in political speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42751151)

Try checking politifact and stop listening to talk radio and fox news.

sometimes they lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42751107)

Sometimes they lie, like when Romney told workers that Chrysler was going to be shipping all their jobs overseas to china.

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/oct/30/mitt-romney/mitt-romney-obama-chrysler-sold-italians-china-ame/

Re:Check truth in political speech (1)

schlachter (862210) | about a year and a half ago | (#42751497)

Political speak is far too nuanced for a computer based approach to detect truthiness. There is too much implied information, context, irony, satire, etc. that it won't accurately reflect.

Re:Check truth in political speech (2)

Pieroxy (222434) | about a year and a half ago | (#42748931)

I feel this is bad, because people will then be compelled to give more credit to stuff 'TRUE' not realizing that quotes out of context can convey the exact opposite meaning that was intended. In other words, those exact words may have been spoken by the right people, but in the context they were spoken in, they had a different meaning.

TL;DR. You're right. True will not necessarily mean you're not being lied to. Only FALSE can be displayed.

Re:Check truth in political speech (1, Informative)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year and a half ago | (#42749897)

This is too true. Politicians are the masters at manipulating "truth" to their own agendas. You can say something completely factually accurate and still subtly *imply* with the statement something completely false. A simple statement like "This President says he wants to fight terrorists, this President Barak Hussein Obama, claims that he's going to fight Muslim terrorists" is 100% factually accurate. But it conveys something much more sinister and 100% false (that the President is somehow sympathetic with, or perhaps even in league with, Muslim terrorists).

Re:Check truth in political speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42749163)

So basically they've made a static page with the word "FALSE" on it.

WTF...only half of my politician facial/vocal machine learning based truth detector's training and testing set requirements... I give up!

Re:Check truth in political speech (1)

buybuydandavis (644487) | about a year and a half ago | (#42749215)

No. "Not Even False."

Re:Check truth in political speech (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year and a half ago | (#42749233)

So basically they've made a static page with the word "FALSE" on it.

Not to be cynical, but how will we know we can trust the machine? Machines can be manipulated far more easily than humans. A bunch of sheeple relying on a machine for the truth is every politician's wet dream.

Re:Check truth in political speech (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42749927)

Not to be cynical, but how will we know we can trust the machine?

Simple. Record a video of someone claiming it is reliable. If it says "FALSE" it isn't.

Re:Check truth in political speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42750685)

First post nails it.

Fact check (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42748457)

Wow. This will never be abused. Now we are spoon feeding low information voters?

Re:Fact check (1)

Coisiche (2000870) | about a year and a half ago | (#42748517)

Doesn't that happen anyway?

It will be interesting to see if the idea develops. Each TV news channel could claim to have their own instance of the software and yet if you were to watch a politician's speech the displayed "truth" results might be very different between a broadcast on, say Fox, and any other channel.

Re:Fact check (1)

ldobehardcore (1738858) | about a year and a half ago | (#42748925)

Keeping in this veign:
What if the public exerted a selection pressure towards harmonizing the results between networks? Wouldn't that open up opportunities for abuse as well?

For instance, the public becomes outraged when, for example, FOX's algo says Obama's lying 84% of the time, while MSNBC says he's lying 22% of the time. If face is going to be saved, then both networks have an incentive to move toward each other's numbers. There'll probably be a point where they'll still differ, but not by enough to make very many people angry. But if that doesn't occour, and the networks are unwilling to lose any face as a consequence of showing their biases, they'll try to share their databases. Then you can control two networks reporting on Obama (or whoever), by modifying the database of just one network.

Re:Fact check (2)

StoneyMahoney (1488261) | about a year and a half ago | (#42749189)

The third option when there's a disparity like that is that the audience will complain about it / ignore it / turn it off.

Re:Fact check (2)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year and a half ago | (#42749249)

Keeping in this veign:
What if the public exerted a selection pressure towards harmonizing the results between networks?

It won't make any difference. People choose networks which confirm their own personal bias, not because they want to find out the truth.

Re:Fact check (1)

fizzer06 (1500649) | about a year and a half ago | (#42749431)

"FOX's algo says Obama's lying 84% of the time, while MSNBC says he's lying 22% of the time. If face is going to be saved, then both networks have an incentive to move toward each other's numbers."

This isn't logical. One may be 100% correct. It would be a very rare occasion they are both off by the same percent.

Re:Fact check (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42750003)

For instance, the public becomes outraged when, for example, FOX's algo says Obama's lying 84% of the time, while MSNBC says he's lying 22% of the time.

But Fox viewers would be outrages on MSNBC for displaying such wrong statistics, while MSNBC would be outraged on Fox for displaying such wrong statistics. Since it is good for the channel if the viewers are outraged on the competition, the percentages would more likely diverge over time.

Re:Fact check (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42751281)

Except Fox News will never admin as conservative candidate is lying, and do its damnedest to misrepresent a moderate to liberal candidate as lying.

Re:Fact check (2)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year and a half ago | (#42748543)

I'm curious what it will base this on. You can have a given subject that two people will disagree on with regard to what is fact and what isn't, and both could be right depending on your source.

Take for example the Trayvon/Zimmerman mess. If a politician says Zimmerman was racially motivated, will this fact checker say true or false? Likewise if a politician says Trayvon had criminal intent.

Re:Fact check (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about a year and a half ago | (#42748993)

There probably should be a "DISPUTED"/"UNDETERMINED" category, too.

Re:Fact check (1)

digitig (1056110) | about a year and a half ago | (#42749077)

Then everything would come up "disputed". Even the claim that the Earth is round is disputed by flat-Earthers. Heck, even this claim will probably be disputed by somebody.

Re:Fact check (1)

Coisiche (2000870) | about a year and a half ago | (#42749201)

I think that there must be at least one indisputable fact that all humans could agree on... I just don't know what it is but I'm certain it will never feature in a political debate.

Re:Fact check (1)

sco08y (615665) | about a year and a half ago | (#42749247)

I think that there must be at least one indisputable fact that all humans could agree on... I just don't know what it is but I'm certain it will never feature in a political debate.

Exactly. If everyone agrees on it, what's the point of bringing it up in a debate?

Re:Fact check (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#42749307)

I once argued with a person who refused to acknowledge that 1+1=2.

Really. Not making it up. She rejected the existance of mathematics on religious grounds, arguing that god alone can provide true certainty.

Re:Fact check (1)

Digital Vomit (891734) | about a year and a half ago | (#42750083)

You should have asked her how many gods there were. "There's one? Sounds like math to me..."

Re:Fact check (1)

tomknight (190939) | about a year and a half ago | (#42750195)

Remember, 1+1=3 for large values of 1

Re:Fact check (1)

digitig (1056110) | about a year and a half ago | (#42750445)

Similarly I've seen advocates of scientism reject all mathematics on the grounds that it's not empirical. I assume (hope!) that they were bandwagon-riders, not real scientists.

Re:Fact check (1)

phlinn (819946) | about a year and a half ago | (#42751291)

I dispute that. IMPOSSIBLE TO CHECK, SPUN, MISLEADING, and UNDETERMINED would be better. Almost everything is disputed by someone.

I, for one,... (3, Informative)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a year and a half ago | (#42749347)

The difference is that the T/Z interaction details are not facts.

How much money was allocated to the military in the last ten years in budgets?
How much money was spent by the military in the last ten years?
What percentage of the revenue of the federal budget is collected as income tax on those making in the top X% of income earners?
How many people receive social security who also have assets greater than $2,000,000?
Are there more or fewer naval ships in service today than in 2000?
Do the bottom 50% of income households pay zero income taxes? zero federal taxes? zero taxes?
How many days of vacation has the president taken in the past 4 years? Has the president taken more vacation days per year than the previous president?
How many firearms are purchased in the US in a year?
How many intruders are shot by firearms owners defending their property or person?
How many suicides are the result of firearm use? Of poison use? Of jumping off buildings?
What is the national average price of hamburger?

All verifiable facts from reliable, independent sources. Based on the ability of Watson to parse, search, and manage data, I think it's also possible to determine if the data is in question.

As someone who routinely fact checks and is appalled at the gross inaccuracies out there (not just the twisting or cherry picking, but simply wrong) I, for one, welcome our new robotic fact checking overlord(s).

Re:I, for one,... (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year and a half ago | (#42751067)

Do the bottom 50% of income households pay zero income taxes? zero federal taxes? zero taxes?

You wouldn't trust a guy who runs around breaking windows and complaining about a crime wave.
Why would you trust guys who run around cutting income taxes and then complaining that half the country doesn't pay income taxes?

As someone who routinely fact checks and is appalled at the gross inaccuracies out there (not just the twisting or cherry picking, but simply wrong) I, for one, welcome our new robotic fact checking overlord(s).

It's not enough to verify the answer to a question.
You should always be looking at the question itself,
because within it is great opportunity to shape the answer that is generated.

Re:Fact check (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | about a year and a half ago | (#42748607)

If I am already struggling to understand politicians, then how the hell is a computer gonna do any better? Last time I checked humans were still better at understanding language than computers.

Re:Fact check (1)

SerpentMage (13390) | about a year and a half ago | (#42748705)

You are such an ignorant person that it is not even funny. The problem here is that people like to stretch things. And even the most intelligent, or knowledgable will get biased towards their own opinions without checking facts. For example I often will debate somebody and that other person will make an assertion, "like most people do this." I ask, really you got facts to back this up? Answer no they don't. Thus by putting the fact checker beside the person talking at least we can get back to the facts.

Me pappy always said... (4, Insightful)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about a year and a half ago | (#42748459)

if(lips_move)
then
display("FALSE");

Won't work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42748467)

A good politician, just like a bad philosopher, only makes statements that are beyond truth and falsity.

Re:Won't work (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year and a half ago | (#42748577)

You'd think so, but fact checking in the election seems to indicate that politicians will tell bald-faced lies whenever they're in the presence of the press, on the entirely correct assumption that a falsity which suggests a controversy will be better-covered by the press than an uncontroversial fact.

Re:Won't work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42748847)

You mean obama lied during his election campaign? I'm shocked, SHOCKED that he'd do that! What's the world come to?

I have one already (3, Funny)

Jesrad (716567) | about a year and a half ago | (#42748481)

... it's a sticker that reads "bullshit", you slap it on the screen permanently.

Joke aside, who will debunk the dunkers ? Everything we know is false, for vaster and more elaborate definitions of "false" as science progresses.

Re:I have one already (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a year and a half ago | (#42749389)

Because facts are facts - and if the fact checker is proven to be wrong, there will be outcry. That's the nice thing about facts - they are facts.

Politicians (and mathematicians) will argue that 2 + 2 = 5 (for sufficiently large values of 2), but a computer knows that 2.0000 + 2.0000 does not equal 5.0000 and will note that - for the parameters provided that sum is incorrect. The politician will then have to "admit" that they "fudged" 2 a bit, and they really meant 2.3, and then rounded up. And if you don't think 0.3 matters, let 2 bet the current US budget in Trillions. that 0.3 they left off was $300 Billion, and they threw in an extra $400 Billion when they rounded - and that's not an insignificant amount.

Anyone can go look up the facts, and within a certain margin they will all agree for a set of parameters. Facts which change either (a) aren't facts or (b) are in areas where not enough is known to establish facts. In 2013, there are very, very few "facts" which vary by more than a couple of percent, and even fewer which do so and are the subject of political talking points.

Re:I have one already (1)

sycodon (149926) | about a year and a half ago | (#42750627)

a computer knows that 2.0000 + 2.0000 does not equal 5.0000

That's because it's not using "Outcome" based Math.

That's not possible (5, Interesting)

Mitreya (579078) | about a year and a half ago | (#42748487)

that displays âoeTRUE" or âoeFALSEâ in real time next to video of politicians as they speak.

Few statements can be classified as "true" or "false" exactly. There is always some fraction of bullshit, but the fraction varies:

Politifact has
True --The statement is accurate and thereâ(TM)s nothing significant missing.
Mostly True -- The statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information.
Half True -- The statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details or takes things out of context.
Mostly False -- The statement contains some element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression.
False -- The statement is not accurate.
Pants on Fire -- The statement is not accurate and makes a ridiculous claim.

And even this may be too coarse-grained.

Re:That's not possible (1)

Spottywot (1910658) | about a year and a half ago | (#42748729)

I like this scale a lot, thanks for that, would mod you up but I've no mod-points for a change.

Re:That's not possible (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about a year and a half ago | (#42748911)

Its even worse because a lot of statements that fall into those categories also contain opinion which is neither true or false until after the fact has happened and we can see how accurate it might have been.

Ive seen people who have expressed opinions supported by mountains of evidence and end up being wrong. I'm sure there have been opinions based on little more then gut feelings that have turned out to be correct.

Re:That's not possible (1)

Shrike Valeo (2198124) | about a year and a half ago | (#42749175)

I assume this scale is taking out the elements of actual lies and is more to do with analysing the truth. Truth be told a detector of that would be handy, but it wouldn't be easy to detect a factual piece of information in the context it gets used, yet I would imagine politicians are craftier with that than blatant lies

True and False are easy (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a year and a half ago | (#42749409)

No - it's easy: What would you allow your 8 year old (or 12, or 16 year old) to tell you as true?

The top two are TRUE and the rest are FALSE. You provide a "human" error band of a few percent on actual facts (the federal government spent 2.5 Trillion Dollars last year would be true, and I'd take anything from 2.4 to 2.7 as an acceptable answer, since 2.67 was requested and 2.49 was approved).

Why should we allow half or partial truths from our leaders, when we don't accept them from our children?

Re:That's not possible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42749453)

And even this may be too coarse-grained.

Is there an SI unit for truthiness?

Re:That's not possible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42749863)

How about true is true and false is false. Why do we need all these gray areas of falseness or misleading? It just encourages people to not be truthful.

Re:That's not possible (1)

Spottywot (1910658) | about a year and a half ago | (#42750897)

How about true is true and false is false. Why do we need all these gray areas of falseness or misleading? It just encourages people to not be truthful.

Not really, check out http://www.politifact.com/ [politifact.com] , they don't just put the truth-o-meter next to a statement and leave it at that. They provide a factual reason as to why the rating is given. Take a look at the examples on the link I've given and then try to tell me that 'if you were a politician' you would want anything other than 'true' next to a statement of yours.

Re:That's not possible (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about a year and a half ago | (#42751323)

Of course the problem with Politifact (and most, if not all, other "fact checkers") is that they will from time to time call something fact because they disagree with the political position it is being used to support. For example, Politifacts 2012 "lie of the year" was actually true, they just felt that it was used in a way that was misleading. Politifact said that Mitt Romney's statement that Chrysler was going to build Jeeps in China was the lie of the year, yet Chrysler is indeed going to be building Jeeps in China. Now one could argue, and Politifact did, that Mitt Romney used that fact in a misleading way, but the fact itself is true.
A fact checker should check the facts, not the interpretation that is made of those facts.

Re:That's not possible (1)

schlachter (862210) | about a year and a half ago | (#42751535)

I think this will be limited to the absolute facts like

votes for/against bills
verifying quotes
world data facts
domestic data (i.e. job numbers/change in numbers)

Re:That's not possible (1)

phlinn (819946) | about a year and a half ago | (#42751685)

Unfortunately, the ratings can't be trusted. Just as an example of this argument: http://www.forbes.com/sites/aroy/2012/11/05/the-ten-worst-fact-checks-of-the-2012-election/ [forbes.com] Mostly true, half ture, and mostly false should really be true but slightly misleading, misleading, incredibly misleading. Alll the misleading entries are partially the opinion of the author about whether specific inferences are actually justified.

Will Truth Teller do mistakes? (1)

Prokur (2445102) | about a year and a half ago | (#42748491)

True

Watson (2)

SJ2000 (1128057) | about a year and a half ago | (#42748523)

I think I'd rather IBM's Watson [wikipedia.org] , I think it's shown a lot of promise in natural language parsing and I think it would do a better job than anything The Washington Post can come up with.

Automated editorializing? (2, Insightful)

starworks5 (139327) | about a year and a half ago | (#42748535)

Have you ever heard of the concept of garbage in - garbage out? If you ask the majority of people they think that things like return on investment as 'facts', but yet infinite growth in a finite system is impossible, and all economic activity is premised on energy and thermodynamics.

When politicians say things like 'high taxes are hurting business' will the system be 'hand fed' the appropriate answer, regardless of mountains of evidence showing otherwise because it discourages 'non-productive consumption', and that the high taxes pay for government infrastucture, welfare, and investment?

  Similarly there have been lots of propaganda referred to as facts in terms of tax policy, by the likes of the 'chicago boys' and people like milton friedman et al, however these people don't believe that economics can be studied empirically, and tax policy as an extension of economic policy.

I have had my share of problems with my local oregon newspaper distorting facts of even its 'politifact', and generaly attacking the institution of government itself as bad, so that it can meet the expectations of the patrons which keep it in business.

Is is any suprise that news media that are conservative make way more ad revenue per viewer than liberal, say for example rachel maddow or the daily show vs fox primetime, even when they have better age demographics of viewership for advertisers?

Re:Automated editorializing? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42749237)

why would anyone think that the Was.Post would recognize truth ?
have they published much of it lately ?

What about one that detects bad debating tactics? (1)

PSVMOrnot (885854) | about a year and a half ago | (#42748541)

I had been thinking "wouldn't it be cool if" for a while about something like this, but I would like to see it taken a few steps further. Though it would be rather difficult, wouldn't it be cool if there was a system like this which detected bad/underhanded debating tactics such as straw man [wikipedia.org] , Ad hominem [wikipedia.org] , cherry picking [wikipedia.org] and so on.

Re:What about one that detects bad debating tactic (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about a year and a half ago | (#42749523)

"I had been thinking "wouldn't it be cool if" for a while about something like this, but I would like to see it taken a few steps further. Though it would be rather difficult, wouldn't it be cool if there was a system like this which detected bad/underhanded debating tactics such as straw man, Ad hominem, cherry picking and so on."

(Note to mods: the following strange reply has a couple of layers, so be careful what mod category you use!)

We're talking about full Strong AI, aren't we? Political speech is one of the most difficult categories of speech to process! So wait, we're asking a *computer program* ... built in *three months* ... to fact check *tax policy*?

But then we turn around and say that 30 *years* worth of attempts at AI can't figure out the transcript you had with that girl at the bar? And Siri can't figure out what you meant by "tell me where the nearest RPG game store is that doesn't require getting on ____ train on the transit system"?

Yet we want to believe that *in real time* a computer can deduce a statement like "the economy will have less money in the hands of citizens because some of the payroll tax cuts expired and were not replaced."

Re:What about one that detects bad debating tactic (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42750057)

I don't think that anyone is telling you that a computer WILL do it today, only that it would be what is useful. Logical fallacy detection would be, bar none, the most useful tool in debate because it would save so much fucking time if a buzzer went off when something someone says is clearly a bunch of shit from a logical standpoint.

Awesome. I was wishing for that during the debates (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about a year and a half ago | (#42748563)

That'll be great. Often, such as during the primaries while there are still 8 candidates, or when the two candidates are otherwise tied, I eliminate candidates based on relative honesty. I was wishing for a real-time politifact scroller. They all stretch the truth, of course, but some WAY more than others.

This, or later versions, could really be a boon to voters who aren't really interested in politics, so they often don't know an "obvious" lie when they hear it. For example, in some polls most Obama voters didn't recognize the name of the then-current vice president. How are they supposed to judge the veracity of a candidate's statements when they have no interest in, and little knowledge of, politics? (Not saying they are dumb, they just spend their time on things other than politics.)

I had envisioned some invited experts typing quick notes like "factually false" into a chat type system, but if a machine can be more objective, great.

Great. Can't wait for the... (1)

Lundse (1036754) | about a year and a half ago | (#42748575)

Fox version!

I bet it'll be a Bill O'Reilly animation shouting...

"facts" ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42748595)

The thing about politics is that people do not agree on what the facts are, except in the most obvious, simple cases.
Also, people agree even less on the applicability of a certain "fact" to a certain problem.
This will accomplish very little. It may even be counterproductive because it may classify the speech of a true visionary as a lie because the thing is just to dumb.

Re:"facts" ? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year and a half ago | (#42748605)

By "facts" usually they're referring to what a "fact checker" (which is an actual journalistic role) would look into: simple, unambiguous statements that the newspaper would be embarrased to get wrong. "X was born in Y". "Under A's tenure, statistic B changed by C". Amazingly enough politicians lie prolifically about even those things.

Re:"facts" ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42751421)

I think this fact checker will be horribly misused. An example: Partnership for a Drug-Free America website. It used to state point blank that marijuana causes cancer. Then a study was done by researchers who logically thought pot would be carcinogenic, since all smoke contains carcinogens. The subjects were geezers who had smoked pot since youth, smoked cigarettes since youth, smoked both since youth, and the fourt group had never smoked. They expected the potsmokers to have more cancers than cigarette smokers, and for smokers of both to have even more. They were surprised to find that those who smoked both had half the cancers of those who smoked only cigarettes, and those who only smoked pot actually had fewer cancers than nonsmokers, although the difference between the two groups was statistically insignifigant.

So the anti-drug site changed its wording from "marijuana causes cancer" to "marijuana smoke contains carcinogens." True, but misleading to the point that the impression the reader of this fact gets is itself a lie -- they make it look like pot causes cancer without actually saying so.

Is it April 1st already? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42748671)

I suspect a mechanical Turk, or perhaps a piece of performance art.

Not much is Black and White (3, Insightful)

eddy_crim (216272) | about a year and a half ago | (#42748783)

Sound like total rubbish to me. Politicians do lie sometimes and they even occasionaly tell the truth but mostly they bend the truth out of all proportion. If they make a statement its not TRUE or FALSE usually the answer would be "WELL... ITS COMPLICATED.. it depends how you look at it" In the UK we have a radio show dedicated to statistics called More or Less http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qshd [bbc.co.uk] These folks can spend half the show discussing the truth behind a single political statement and then sometimes dont come to a firm conclusion

Re:Not much is Black and White (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about a year and a half ago | (#42750739)

If they make a statement its not TRUE or FALSE usually the answer would be "WELL... ITS COMPLICATED.. it depends how you look at it"

But the real problem isn't the politicians... because very few people are interested in hearing "well... it's more complicated than that" (let alone actually educating themselves on the issue). They want a simple black-or-white, true-or-false statement (as anyone who was on Facebook and saw the various image memes around election time) - and this software panders to that... to the further detriment of our political process.

Correct? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42748851)

Wouldn't it be almost perfect to just say "false"?

Easy (1)

JavaBear (9872) | about a year and a half ago | (#42748899)

if (person.getJobs().containsKey(Jobs.POLITICIAN)) {
        return false;
}

Where's the fact database? (1)

davide marney (231845) | about a year and a half ago | (#42749011)

Until they publish the fact database for everyone to see, how can we tell if it's just more editorializing disguised as fact-checking? The example they give on their demo page, "The Recovery Act saved or created millions of jobs and cut taxes for 95 of the American people" is not encouraging. The "saved or created" statistic was widely panned at the time it was first used because these terms were invented by the Administration, they are not standard employment terms that can be verified with empirical data. Later attempts to find the data behind this claim turned up many dubious sources.

Saying one has the "the" truth implies that the facts are undisputed. If we saw the actual fact database, my guess is that something like 10-15% of the statements would fall into that category.

Re:Where's the fact database? (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year and a half ago | (#42749501)

There also clearly needs to be some fuzziness built in. If you have a politician stating that the annual budget of some agency is $15.6 million and it's actually $16.2 million, that's considerably less wrong than saying that the agency is entirely responsible for adding $1 trillion to the debt.

Also, Futurama did it first:
Morbo: Morbo demands an answer to the following question: If you saw delicious candy in the hands of a small child would you seize and consume it?
Jack Johnson: Unthinkable.
John Jackson: I wouldn't think of it.
Morbo: What about you, Mr. Nixon? I remind you, you are under a truth-o-scope.
Richard Nixon: Uh, well, I, uh ... the question is-is vague. You don't say what kind of candy, whether anyone is watching or, uh... At any rate, I certainly wouldn't harm the child.

[The truth-o-scope beeps.]

Knight Foundation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42749133)


"The Knight Foundation-funded program"

I'm sure they have a better AI that can determine the truth...

Re:Knight Foundation... (1)

a_hanso (1891616) | about a year and a half ago | (#42749417)

Is it called Knight Industries Truth Teller (K.I.T.T) ?

No, ofcourse not... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42749577)

It is called Knight Foundation Car - K.F.C.
It also produces very good chicken for Carnivores.

post game review (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42749141)

Why broadcast major events or debates live? Why not delay it, have someone fact-checking the tape, making indications and then broadcasting it to the viewers? Or, perhaps some sort of post-game analysis?

Do we really trust news outlets to be the fact-checkers?

Why not apply it to their reporting? (1)

sco08y (615665) | about a year and a half ago | (#42749239)

Back in the day, "fact checking" was something a newspaper or such ran against their own product. Readers' Digest was famous for their fact checkers.

If they want to check a speech in real time, why don't they run it on their own reporting and opinion pages?

Going around piously checking everyone else's facts is more creating news than anything else.

Washington Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42749243)

Since a fair number of their 'fact checkers' get their facts wrong, who is going to check the truth teller facts?

what's the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42749585)

Suppose everything they say is true, and is reported as true, and we all sigh with relief. And then one day, "FALSE" appears on our TV screens. What then?

my .02

KITT (1)

sabbede (2678435) | about a year and a half ago | (#42749791)

I thought the Knight Foundation was focused more on fighting crime - Championing the cause of the innocent, the helpless, in a world of criminals who operate above the law.

humans already have that app -- it's common sense (1)

rocket rancher (447670) | about a year and a half ago | (#42749813)

As a wise man once pointed out, you can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time. Rupert Murdoch's news empire has made a fortune for him by following this dictum to the letter. Murdoch has figured out which people he can fool all the time -- angry white males who live in the US. And as another wise man once pointed out, a man will hear what he wants to hear, and disregard the rest. Murdoch isn't worried about his angry white male revenue stream abandoning him simply because somebody fact-checked his propaganda -- Murdoch knows that angry white males will ignore anything that disrupts their vision of the world, and embrace anything that endorses it.

And -- just to affirm the Rule of Three -- another wise man once pointed out that the truth is out there. We already have fantastic sites like snopes [snopes.com] and factcheck [factcheck.org] that eviscerate Murdoch's untruth stream in near real-time. People who can't be fooled all of the time and who don't always disregard what they don't want to hear can take comfort in the fact that sites like these are out there and are accessible to them any time their common sense alerts on one of Murdoch's "facts."

Great Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42750077)

And I applaud the concept. The wrinkle is of course that some "facts" are highly political in of themselves.

It's called "Truth Teller", but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42750559)

For some reason, they decided not to go with its original name, which was "Fact Hunt".

The problem/irony with this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42750741)

The problem/irony with this is it's being published by the Washington Post, a company that is not trustworthy.

Soon to be a felony (1)

emho24 (2531820) | about a year and a half ago | (#42750975)

USA lawmakers will soon pass a law making this a felony.

I have a much better idea (1)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | about a year and a half ago | (#42751053)

I think such a system should be a required filter before any journalist can publish an article. This filtering system should also red flag words that imply speculation on the part of the author such as "might," "if," or "maybe." And to take that a step further, television news should also have a system that identifies when file footage has been inserted into a report for dramatic effect.

WordPress Login pops up on about page (1)

schneidafunk (795759) | about a year and a half ago | (#42751319)

Anyone else getting asked to log into the admin of their wordpress when viewing their about [washingtonpost.com] page?

This is only 1.5 of 3. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42751435)

There's a reason why, when testifying, you're instructed to "Tell the Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But The Truth".

This only covers the first part and, partially, the third. Telling the Whole Truth is the detail in where the devil lies. Without it is how people can state a single true fact ("Created 4 million jobs!") that doesn't, individually, comport with reality ("U3@9% / U6@14%").

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