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Google To Predict Accuracy of Political Statements

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the google-knows dept.


pestario writes "Google CEO Eric Schmidt talks about a service which can give the probability of the accuracy of statements made by politicians, among other things. From the Reuters article, Schmidt says: "We (at Google) are not in charge of truth but we might be able to give a probability." Can Google's 'truth predictor' bring an end to sound bites and one-liners? I'm not holding my breath...""

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I know what the politicians will do. (5, Funny)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319041)

They'll use this to tweak the statement until it passes the test.

Just Keep Up the Neologisms (2, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319079)

Or they could just invent their own words to confuse it [] .

Seriously, tacular? How in the hell is a computer supposed to know that meant nuclear and tactical? Wait, how in the hell am I supposed to know that?!

Accuratize this: Cigarettes cause global warming. (1, Troll)

mosel-saar-ruwer (732341) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319175)

Google CEO Eric Schmidt talks about a service which can give the probability of the accuracy of statements made by politicians, among other things.

Fri Sep 29 2006 09:04:05 ET

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore warned hundreds of U.N. diplomats and staff on Thursday evening about the perils of climate change, claiming: Cigarette smoking is a "significant contributor to global warming!" [] 4.shtml []

Elton John helps raise money for Gore
September 20, 2000
Web posted at: 9:40 AM EDT (1340 GMT)

ATHERTON, Calif. (Reuters) - Flamboyant rock star Elton John, making his first foray into American politics after three decades of performing in the United States, endorsed Vice President Al Gore at a ritzy Silicon Valley fund-raiser.

John, the entertainer at a $10,000-a-plate dinner Tuesday, began his set with "Your Song." But before his next number, he showed his political stripes to the business leaders of America's technological mecca...

The fund-raiser, at the home of Novell Corp. Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, raised $3.25 million for the Democratic National Committee... /20/campaign.gore.john.reut/ []

Re:Accuratize this: Cigarettes cause global warmin (1)

paralaxcreations (981218) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319605)

I think you're trying to draw a connection between Google and backing Al Gore?

If you are, you don't really need to go any further than Current TV, which up until recently was owned by Al Gore and partnered with Google (now it is partnered with Yahoo).

Also, it's been a known fact for a long time now that Al Gore and Google have been very close (Senior Advisor).

If that's not what you're doing...well, I guess you were connecting Google to Elton John? In which case, all you have to do is look at Google's "proud" logo.

Re:Accuratize this: Cigarettes cause global warmin (2, Funny)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319659)

Isn't it obvious? Google and Novell rely very heavily on the internet, so of course they'd be big supporters of its inventor. =P

Re:Accuratize this: Cigarettes cause global warmin (4, Insightful)

molarmass192 (608071) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319885)

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore warned hundreds of U.N. diplomats and staff on Thursday evening about the perils of climate change, claiming: Cigarette smoking is a "significant contributor to global warming!"

I hope to hell you're trolling because if not you need to dig up a transcript of that speech and see what he really said before posting from Drudge and Newsmax, news organizations about as substantiative as The Onion. This snippet is taken so far out of context it's laughable. He was referring to the tobacco industry in the even broader context of agriculture. The statement you presented is about as accurate claiming he said: Gas powered skateboards are a "significant contributor to global warming!" when the original statement would more like "Transportation emissions are a significant contributor to global warming!".

I can't stand left wing nuts about as much as the next guy but right wing nuts are just as bad if not worse.

Re:I know what the politicians will do. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16319081)

They'll use this to tweak the statement until it passes the test.

Simple solution is just to classify everything they say as a lie. Then maybe they'll shut up.

Ya know, that's getting modded as funny but.. (1)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319309)

He's probably right. I'm presently getting coaching on communication style and one of the concepts that come up is the difference between how you are trying to come across and how you are actually coming across.

There's no doubt in my mind that this will be a "word smithing" tool.

Re:I know what the politicians will do. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16319341)

Indeed they will. Issuing in a deluge of "Truth Engine Optimization" consultants. And anyone who doesn't have the money to hire them will be seen as less and less trustwothy. I think we all see this as a fool's errand.

I find it interesting the reflection this shows of where we are with net content in the days of Search Engine Optimization. In utopian theory, the web is perfectly democratised content where anyone can post anything. The search engines are supposed to match users to sites based solely on the content of the sites, and rank them solely on relevance. However, in this age of Search Engine Optimization, it's possible for someon with enough knowledge and/or consultants to claw their way to the top of the pile, which (necessarilly) is at the expense of less optimized sites that are more relevant. Which, of course, forces the more relevant sites to optimize themselves in return to "restore the balance."

We're now somewhat a level abstracted from the utopian purity of "relevance" in Google (and other search engine) results, just as this new tool would abstract us away from the purity of actual "truth"

Re:I know what the politicians will do. (1)

binaryfinery (765601) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319383)

Will China be allowed to tweak the algorithm so all political messages pass as 100% truth to local population?

Re:I know what the politicians will do. (2, Insightful)

Teun (17872) | more than 7 years ago | (#16320085)

I don't think you understand (Communist) Chinese political culture.

Their leaders are not at all attempting to be truthful to their people, all they want is to be effective.
You know, the stuff diplomats make their money with, hmm maybe with the exception of a certain John R. Bolton.

Function (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 7 years ago | (#16320177)

TruthOrLie( Statement )
        Return "All Lies!"

Re:I know what the politicians will do. (1)

Reverend528 (585549) | more than 7 years ago | (#16320233)

Or just feed it nonsensical statements and logical fallacies until it segfaults:

"Well, it depends on what the definition of the word 'is' is."


Layman's method (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16319047)

How do you tell a politician is lying?

Easy, his lips are moving.

Re:Layman's method (1)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319377)

Oh, I thought the answer was going to be, "He's using Yahoo" :)

Needs to be open source (4, Funny)

HugePedlar (900427) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319051)

Otherwise the result could be perpetually set to "0% Truth" and we'd never know if it worked or not.

Re:Needs to be open source (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319173)

If it was fixed at 0%, I'm pretty sure the success rate would be high enough that it wouldn't matter if it really did anything.


Re:Needs to be open source (1)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319311)

Actually, that was the GP's point.

Truthful politicians are about as common as Yeti: they are the stuff of legends, not reality.

simple algorithm / old joke (0, Redundant)

John_Sauter (595980) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319953)

Question: How can you tell if a politician is lying?

Answer: You watch his mouth. If it's moving, he's lying.

It's already been done. (2, Funny)

jrobinson5 (974354) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319069)

I have just invented a similar program to determine the truthfulness of statements made by politicians. Say the statement out loud and then scroll down to see the percent of accuracy and truthfulness of the politician's statement.

This politician's statement is 0% true.

Re:It's already been done. (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319345)

I have just invented a similar program to determine the truthfulness of statements made by politicians. Say the statement out loud and then scroll down to see the percent of accuracy and truthfulness of the politician's statement.

"Tony Blair says: God will never agree that this statement is true."

This politician's statement is 0% true.

Are you sure? ;-)

much simpler truth predictor right here (1, Redundant)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319075)

Enter political candidate's statement here: _______

truth predictor says this is FALSE

ta da! Done. I bet my truth predictor is as accurate as Google's.

Re:much simpler truth predictor right here (1)

jftitan (736933) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319879)

You know... I know that would catch alot of false positives... so how about an additional rule

Rule 1. Its always false

Rule 2. If thinks its true refer to rule #1.

(at least with this rule set, you verify all the false positives)
(I loved my teachers that had this banner on the door Rule #1, teacher is always right, if teacher is wrong, refer to Rule #1)

hmm.. (1)

bigattichouse (527527) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319077)

I guess "truthiness" [] was already taken.

until the results get spammed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16319083)

given how everything else on Google can be manipulated by SEOs, this will open up whole new possibilities...

will Google allow opposing viewpoints via adwords/adsense on the results page?

Seems... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16319093)

.... to me that Micheal Jakson's in a lot of trouble.


Re:Seems... (1)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 7 years ago | (#16320021)

Michael, meet Mark Foley. Mark, meet Michael. I know you're going to be good friends. Dammit Mark, get your hands off Bubbles. He's only a frikking chimp. Not a page. And he's not going to lick ice cream off your nipples, even a chimp has his limits.

Know the beast (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16319101)

Well knowing google they will spy on the trends and pass the results back to google. Me personally its not about whether a statement is true or not that matters, it is who says it. Tis being slashdot, I blindly believe every word I am fed by the slashbots, google being the evil big not corporation, slashbot tells me to believe nothing so I don't. On the other hand if google was an open source unix shell published under the GFDL liscense and endorsed by...

my simple algorithm has a 99% accuracy rating: (0, Redundant)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319103)

It sounds like s/he's doing something good!
-> Probability politician is lieing: 100%

It sounds like s/he's doing something bad!
-> Probability politician is lieing: 0%

Re:my simple algorithm has a 99% accuracy rating: (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16319509)

Probability that you used spellcheck on this post: 0%.

Execs say the darnedest things (2, Interesting)

ndogg (158021) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319105)

Some one should make a show out of that.

Why do execs say such funny things away from their engineering teams? And why do I get the sneaking suspicion that some group at Google has actually figured out how to do this?

Anyway, until this is beyond hype, I find the Annenberg Fact Check [] to be the most reliable source out there.

What about the accuracy of Sun headlines? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16319117)

While the Sun is the UK's biggest selling "newspaper" they've never knowingly let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Re:What about the accuracy of Sun headlines? (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319229)

I think newspaper is streatching it a bit the suns more like a comic.

Very simple algorithm (1, Redundant)

Morgaine (4316) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319119)

if (statement.source.profession == "politician")
        probability_of_truth = 0.0;

And in response... (1)

Rixel (131146) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319123)

Yahoo accuses Google of using 'liberal' and/or 'left friendly' heuristics, and therefore is biased. Google, defending it's algorithms, state Yahoo consultants are a bunch of Yahoos funded by a bunch of rich, well placed Yahoos.

Re:And in response... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16319219)

If Google has a left-wing bias, why was Eric Schmidt [] at the Tory conference?

Re:And in response... (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319367)

What's a Tory? Is that like a Whig? :)

Re:And in response... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16319391)

By US standards, a lot of recent conservative policies would eb seen as extremely left wing. Improvements to state funded health care, and reducing fees for higher education, especially.

Group-think (1)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319151)

It works like this. You have two computer screens. On one you're typing, on the other comments appear checking the accuracy of what you are saying, suggesting better ways of making the same point.
Will anything "original" ever be written again? If everyone uses this "tool" to vet/scrub/tweak/improve everything they say, wouldn't this simply promote group-think?

In a world such as that, controlling the contents of the web would give tremendous power. Imagine bots that auto-generated blogs pushing your own agenda, all to ratchet up the numbers to influence the "truth-engines".

Harry Seldon would be proud (5, Interesting)

t0xic@ (156547) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319177)

I guess Psychohistory is here! I just wish Isaac Asimov would have lived a bit longer.

Why not 'scientific' and 'tech' statements first? (1)

jkrise (535370) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319191)

1998: Windows 98 is 38% faster than Windows 95 2001: Windows 2000 is faster and more stable than Win98 2003: Windows XP is twice as secure as Win2K, and faster as well 2007: Windows Vista will be the most secure OS ever... Try running Vista on a Pentium 166MHz with 32 MB of RAM... I think Google ought to predict the accuracy levels of such statements... they'd be more useful in practice.

Intellectual exercise (1)

Novotny (718987) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319209)

I love the way the Sun tried to communicate the size of an exabyte by explaining how many hours of watching tv it may relate to. I'd like to believe the paper is talking down to its readership...

Re:Intellectual exercise (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319255)

Probability that any sun reader could even spell exebyte let alone comprehend what it was: 0%
Probability that this story is made up by some hack out of someone's blog he read once: 100%

The Sun doesn't print news stories, it prints mainly the made up kind, interspersed with pictures of breasts. Occasionally they get lucky and print a made up story *about* breasts.

Re:Intellectual exercise (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319385)

Probability that any sun reader could even spell exebyte let alone comprehend what it was: 0%

Now, we know that all spelling flames must themselves contain a spelling error, but this is a particularly delightful example...

Re:Intellectual exercise (1)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319387)

The Sun doesn't print news stories, it prints mainly the made up kind, interspersed with pictures of breasts. Occasionally they get lucky and print a made up story *about* breasts.

Well, this sounds like about the best newspaper in the world.

Would there be PROFIT!!!11 if I started one in Croatia? *makes a note*

Re:Intellectual exercise (1)

albyrne5 (893494) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319575)

Was it the Sun who had the story of the 16 year old girl with all natural 34KK boobs? Oh mercy! No wait ... it wasn't the Sun ... it was the Star.

Why wait 5 years? (1)

arun_s (877518) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319221)

From TFA:
He predicted that "truth predictor" software would, within five years, "hold politicians to account."
I did a quick google and got this Wiki [] page. Arguably not as fine grained as he foresees, but with a decent minute of googling you can fish out pretty much anything.
On a side note, it is somewhat saddening to see that there are a dozen famous broken promises mentioned in the link, but the list of fulfilled promises is still a stub.

Lying is not the major problem (4, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319223)

it's not good, but it's not the worst thing politicians do.

Framing is the worst thing they do. By that I mean framing an issue in a narrow way cleverly engineered to suit a hidden agenda.

Re:Lying is not the major problem (5, Insightful)

nate nice (672391) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319431)

Otherwise known as lying.

You're either being truthful or you're not. You either have good intentions or you don't. Yes, the world *is* this black and white. The world *is* this simple. And you're either lying or you're not. Sometimes it's hard to determine, but it's one way or the other. Any amount of lying makes your whole statement untrue and therefore you're a liar.

If you're telling me something, even if it's "true", but the goal is decieve or take advantage of, then you're lying.

Re:Lying is not the major problem (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319915)

I can't determine the truthiness of what you're saying.

Re:Lying is not the major problem (4, Insightful)

Grym (725290) | more than 7 years ago | (#16320153)

Not necessarily...

Sure, GoogleTruth(TM) could, yes, figure out if Ted Stevens classic "The Internet is a series of tubes" is true or not, but what if I said something like "Abortion kills fetuses and embryos." While this statement is true, it sets the tone of the discussion in a way that ignores the other issues involved, such as the nature of the conception (e.g. rape, incest), the health/developmental state of the fetus, the right of the mother to choose what's best for herself and her body, etc. That is called framing a debate--and it's extremely effective.

Framing a debate can often boil down to the terms used themselves. A good example of this is the Patriot Act. What does that mean? Does voting against the Patriot Act make one... unpatriotic? And even if you agree with the provisions of the Patriot Act, what does increased homeland security/surveillence have to do with being a patriot?

This is what the GP was referring to as framing, and it IS NOT lying. It is, however, academically dishonest in that it is a form of a logical fallacy [] . I'll be very surprised if google can manage to catch this too, seeing as how most people are terrible at it.


Please define accuracy (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319241)

There is a big difference between a politician who want to so things and then is confronted to the hard reality (most politicians have almost as much power as average joe) and one who is saying bullshit on purpose and doesn't even try to act accordingly to what he proposed before the election.

Solve the problem from the other end (4, Funny)

BandwidthHog (257320) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319247)

What if we invent a politician whose speech patterns change when he’s bullshitting you? Perhaps we could chemically engineer his brain to stumble over words and become maddeningly misunderarticulate whenever he strays from reality.

Nah, it’d never work, he’d end up sounding too addled to get himself elected.

Re:Solve the problem from the other end (4, Funny)

Nicaboker (978150) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319325)

..Have you heard any of Bush's speeches?

Re:Solve the problem from the other end (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16319445)

We need a '-1 special-ed required' mod option...

Re:Solve the problem from the other end (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319627)

This [] Might be useful sometime in your life =o).

Good invention, but too late for poor Hungary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16319285)

This development is too late for us, hungarians, a supposedly democratic republic capitalist country in Central Europe. Here our PM prime minister , one Ferenc Gyurcsany, a former communist youth organization top brass during soviet bloc era, again won this spring's parlamentary elections by lying. These were not simple lies, he and his cabinet ministers actually enacted false legislation into law for "Gradual five year reduction of taxes" in February, while they knew not a single word of this was true and the law will be abolished in May for steep tax increases, as soon as the election is won.

They also forced the state statistics bureau to censor and withhold quarterly public economic data until the election was over, in order to conceal that the country's deficit and foreign debts are fully twice as big as claimed. In fact, they gave even more faked data to the President of Hungarian Republic, when he asked to see about the country's prospect. Furthermore, they played tricks and fakes to mislead European Union economic revisors about the country's status, in violation of standing international treaties!

And then a taped speech by PM Ferenc Gyurcsany, made to his closest cohorts in secret, was leaked. In this tape he openly and very vulgarly admitted that the governing coalition f*cked up royally, did absolutely nothing for the country in the last four years and spent the last 1,5 to 2 years lying constantly, "morning, night and evening".

Then Mr. Gyurcsany refused to step down from PM position, started running amok in hungarian media, speaking on every TV and in the press and explaining he did not mean himself and his ex-communist + libertine party based coalition, but the entire 16 years since fall of communism and that all politicians are liars and he is actually is the smallest liar of them all and the political conservative side is made of 100% nationalists and anti-semites. He said he is the only one able to re-adjust Hungary after the four-years fuck-up he himself caused.

People did not believe him and his parties lost the last week's country-wide municipal election majorially. The opposition is now asking for his stepping down and the dissolution of the parliament (due to it being elected via fraud) and new elections. There will be street protests tomorrow, peasants are already honing the scythe, yet this clown is not willing to go.

If we had this Google political detector half a year ago, all this could have been avoided. Ferenc gyurcsany and his fraudsters would have been ousted in the April 2006 elections. Great pity ... USA at least had Nixon step down.

Re:Good invention, but too late for poor Hungary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16319403)

Yeah, this is possibly the worst political scandal in United Europe in the last ten years. BBC News carried the story extensively and even allowed readers to comment on-line.

Most britons expressed suprise that hungarians are still angered by lying politicians, which problem they deem default. Others said Mr. Blair is even worse, while still others noted that the 50th anniversary of the autumn 1956 hungarian anticommunist revolution is imminents and it is good to see magyar people still stand up against tyranny.

The hungarian prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsany is now planning to hold a vote of confidence on himself in the hungarian parliament, so the governing majority members, who obtained their seat victories by help of those faked tax laws and media censorship, would reinforce him.

Opposition calls this a "dog comedy" and will go to the streets. The President of Republic now seems to support them, although he initially reacted in a lukewarm way after the scandal first broke.

Re:Good invention, but too late for poor Hungary (4, Insightful)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 7 years ago | (#16320205)

Welcome to democracy. Get used to it.

Every Democratically elected government uses this trick. They bullshit the electorate before the electorate (usually trying to bribe them with less taxes) then do whatever they want when the get into power, safe in the knowledge that it is usually 4 years before anyone can do anything about it. Closer to the election the government will start being nice, but right after they election they never give a shit.

You want previous examples, go look at every British conservative election victory in the 1980's. In most cases the British people would do the same thing, vote for the opposition in the local elections as a protest then go back to the tories when the prime ministers election came round becuase they were promised the moon on a stick (lower taxes, better public services through less waste).

Sooner or later all of eastern europe will have to realise that Democracy is no better than Communism was. All it provides is the illusion of having a say in who runs your country so nobody starts a revolution. The people who run every country are the people with the the money. They support politicians with huge donations of cash in return for getting their way when those politicians get elected. Without that cash the politician is unable to pay for all the advertising required in order to get elected.

This will only change when the people of every nation actually take interest in running their own country, but at the moment most people want someone else to take charge so they don't have to make any tough decisions.

Iraq is the best example of this in the western world at present. We need their oil so we can use motor vehicles. Yet nobody wants the guilt of invading another country just to steal their natural resources. So the politicians make up some excuse and we all go along with it, not because we believe it, but because we dont want to face the truth. The alternative was that we kept paying Saudi Arabia for oil and they kept spending some of it on flying planes into our buildings (WTC - 9/11). Osama Bin Laden is Saudi Arabian. He is rich because we had to buy oil from his country. The Saudi Government (Not Democratic, it is ruled by a KING) tacitly support this and will quite happily turn a blind eye to their people funding and supporting terrorism abroad because it keeps the problem abroad, not at home).

The truth is that if everyone in the world had the same standard of living we do in the west, the world would be fucked. Imagine 6 Billion people all driving their own car whenever they pleased, using Gas that costed the same amount it does in the US. The remainder of the worlds oil would be gone inside a decade. So we trust our governments in the west to make sure this doesn't happen. That is why China and India are such a problem. They have too many people who all want the same standard of living we currently have so even they may break the bank, yet alone if Africa got on its feet as well.

So instead we all whine and carp on about how you can't trust politicians. But who wants to. We don't want to know the truth, we want someone to hold our hands and tell us that everything will be ok. That way, if the shit hits the fan we can honestly say it isnt our fault. In the mean time however we can get on with enjoying our lives free from worry.

Remember - It doesnt matter who you vote for, the Government always get in!

We all know... (1)

Nicaboker (978150) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319293)

We all know that politicians lie, I mean hell they are politicians. But the minute one of them tells the truth it's gonna break googles new product and start giving off false positives.

"Results: False.. no wait Truth...No Lies...Wait..Recalculating........Kernal Panic"

I'll save them the trouble ... (1)

Luscious868 (679143) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319295)

I'll save them the trouble. It's all bullshit.

Who's watching Google? (3, Interesting)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319303)

Is Google going to be backing up the true and false statements with sources? Furthermore, what sources are they going to use? How will they evaluate statements that are viewed as true by some sources but false by others? I don't know about you guys but I don't exactly trust Google to give me some sort of percentage true or false without justifying their position. I also don't entirely trust Google not to abuse such a position. Often the truth is what you make of it and I'm not so sure I'll buy into Google-branded truth. I think that researching what the politicians say yourself is your best line of defense in determining how much they lie.

Like we need something to predict... (1)

Shads (4567) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319305)

... the level of accuracy of statements made by people in politics.

They're ALL lies.

WiLie or LieFi? (1)

NJVil (154697) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319313)

Do they plan on using Bluetruth technology?

Missing the point? (1)

nate nice (672391) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319355)

People like one liners and sound bites. Most people aren't smart or astute enough to actually have a political debate and rely on these things as talking points. They rely on their favorite talk show hosts to bring them up and identify with them and dwell on these simple, often meaningless things. Most people don't even know what matters in their lives, so why would telling the truth take precedence?

And since when does the truth matter? When did we start caring about that? I thought we had the common agreement we would get into a pissing contest about unrelated things and walk our candidates around the national gallary like a poney show.

It's not about the truth. It's about blind conviction and the surefootedness of knowing "I'm right". It's about convincing simple, little people that they actually have a voice in something, however unimportant.

This is potentially the most worthless thing Google has made (and I love fact I bow to my new corporate overlord!) and nothing more than more media "Look at how cutesy that Google is" hyperbole.

Go Go Gadget Google! (1)

smokin_juan (469699) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319389)

Keep those asshole accountable

This is close to my idea for a network news show. (1)

F34nor (321515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319433)

If you read the wired article about truth in brain scans or if you are interested in body language etc...

I think we should make a news channel where they take a base line reading of the pundit or politician and then rate the % chance that they are lying. You could use blinks per second, galvanic skin response, heat rate, respiration, brain scans, voice stress. You then also take a tally for the persons past predictions and give them a success rate. So when Anne Coulter comes on it shows that she though we'd be greeted as liberators, where as someone with a half a brain might show a 50% rate.

If you can get them to accept brain scans all the better. But a nice color code to show that the person has been proven time and time again to be a fucking retard without any intelegence or professional ability might lead some of these ass licking fucktards to shut the fuck up and stop leading the sheep in billion dollar mistakes that ruin our country and train the enemy.

Re:This is close to my idea for a network news sho (1)

Jon Luckey (7563) | more than 7 years ago | (#16320057)

If you can get them to accept brain scans all the better.

I think that current technology would only worked in unscripted situations.

As I recall the way MRI style brain scans related to being a truth detector was that they were used to measure where activity was occuring in the brain. Recalling actual memories, activity was diffuse, occuring many places. When internally constructing a fable, actvity was localized in a particular lobe.

So if the politician was reading from a teleprompter,or perhaps even merely well rehersed in the lie, that particular lobe probably would not be showing up like a flare.

It also might be hard to get a politician to hold a press conference while laying down inside a huge magnet.

Excuse me? (1)

Plutonite (999141) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319459)

You mean there's a possibility politicians won't lie?

"truth" is relative (1)

jmyers (208878) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319493)

This could never work or at least the results would never be accepted. For most people the truth is what they want it to be. If the programs version of the truth does not match what they want then it is a bug.

For someone on the far right Rush Limbaugh speaks the truth.
For someone on the far left Noam Chomsky speaks the truth.

Every person is biased and the truth from the program will be disputed and suspect.

News Lie Detector (5, Insightful)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319523)

I thought by now we'd see a little icon at he corner of the screen whenever someone is talking on the news to display probability of deceipt. There are auditory and visual cues to detecting a lie, I'd think by now we'd have computers doing this real-time.

Re:News Lie Detector (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319873)

How much do you trust certain media corporations not to abuse that? Faux News for one.

Re:News Lie Detector (3, Insightful)

mazarin5 (309432) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319921)

Even if there were such a system, it would probably be made by Diebold.

Re:News Lie Detector (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#16320003)

I think something like that would need a fairly complex neural net, something computers aren't and don't simulate all that well.

Re:News Lie Detector (1)

Speare (84249) | more than 7 years ago | (#16320247)

There are auditory and visual cues to detect stress, not particularly lies. Even for an "old hand" at speaking to the media, it is stressful to face dozens of cameras and hot lamps to answer a question accurately (even whether they walked their dog that morning). Mix that with the threat of slander/libel, indicating that a powerful official was a likely liar, and you can easily see why the media doesn't do this. Not everything in a scifi novella actually translates to real life.

Let's just say this is possible and... (1)

PotatoHead (12771) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319541)

...go from there.

Wouldn't it be smarter to just get it working, then roll it out in beta? The idea that these means and methods may be on the table is going to ruffle nearly all the feathers of the powers that be.

We all know there are a few statesmen among the clowns in office right now. We also know they are few in number and essentially powerless right now. To top it off, there are a lot of powerful people pulling strings with dollars that factor in to this whole mess as well, with the crap to decent ratio none to pretty in their ranks too.

The people at Google are smart --wicked smart.

So how come they tip their hand so early? This is like the superhero letting the baddies know about their new invention that will bring peace to the world, if only they have time to get it finished! C'mon Page and Brin, it's stupid! IMHO, there is some major league naievtte in play here. Not a good thing.

All that aside, I find this line of research in general very interesting and potentially valuable. Could it be we might be able to get some quick stats on statements made and on who made them?

Bob the liar: "We know they have weapons of mass destruction."

Personal BS percentage: 80 (high number of statements that are flawed on matters of logic and form)
Lie to Truth Ratio: 10/3 (obvious what this means)

Current statement likely to be true: 10 (Probability based on known facts and an accounting of Bob's statements on record)

IMHO, this is fiction at this point. However, that's where the Google intent lies --or somewhere along these lines right?

Does anyone honestly believe this kind of thing will just be allowed to evolve?

Even if possible, which I've no real confidence in right now, why take on the bad vibes? This is just adding risk and bad karma for no real return, other than a feel good that just might not feel so good somewhere in the near future.

I'd be surprised if this can be made really useful (4, Insightful)

starseeker (141897) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319543)

These comments are very broad, and thus rather difficult to evaluate, but I'm dubious. The evaluation of political statements is heavily involved with the context in which they are spoken. More important, many "truths" that must be delt with in politics are not "truth" in any absolute, scientific sense. Abortion, for example - people will argue until the end of time whether it should or shouldn't be allowed, and there is no real objective truth to be had there because it is a strictly moral question. You might be able to check concrete facts but that too runs smack into the problem of locating trusted sources, particularly about topics that are politically charged. Average internet opinion does not a fact make.

Also, take the case where a politician is taloring their statements to local concerns. They may make generalizations that do apply on a local scale but make a lot less sense (and are a lot less accurate) in a broader context.

More to the point perhaps, how would the US react to the knowledge that politicians can't be depended on for accuracy in statements? I think it would be a collective "well, duh" type of response.

He says the amount of information we are creating is staggering. That's probably true, but it is dwarfed by the amount of crap and uninformed opinions we are creating (see: slashdot). And on the internet, how does one tell? Deciding what to trust and who to trust is a problem that Google can't solve in general.

One thing that might be more useful is a way to use google to quickly locate references that assert facts, and allow an author to add a citation to that source if they think it is legit (or maybe re-think things if no legit source supports an assertion). But that gets back to what is a legit source? The public is unlikely to know for the range of topics involved ("well, the name sounds legit so I"ll believe them") and if they trust bogus sources being cited then the utility falls apart again, and may even be a step backwards (people sounding "legit" without really being legit, and backing each other up). I'd be happier to see politicians cite a source for their facts more often, but how many people will still agree with the person saying what they want to hear whether or not they have sources to back it up? Or dismiss cited sources that don't support their point of view?

No, in general it can't work without people doing the real work: critical thinking. There is no easy path to accuracy. Objectivity must be evaluted both for speaker and sources, and that always falls on the person asked to listen.

Re:I'd be surprised if this can be made really use (1, Flamebait)

jdavidb (449077) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319767)

Abortion, for example - people will argue until the end of time whether it should or shouldn't be allowed, and there is no real objective truth to be had there because it is a strictly moral question.

I'll admit abortion is a hairy issue, but the idea that there can be no objective truth in moral issues in general is bogus. Given the obvious and reasonable axiom of self-ownership (and if you don't own yourself, who does? and if other people don't own themselves, but you claim to, on what basis do you base your claim?), some very basic and irrefutable principles of morality are easily derivable [] , giving us a system on which all can and should agree, regardless of religion (or the lack thereof) or any other philosophy. Anyone violating this (which includes all politicians) is in fact immoral and violating the principle of self-ownership.

Regardless of your source of morality, pretty much everyone agrees with the principle of self-ownership and argues for what is "right" and "wrong" based on it: a violation of rights is a violation of the principle of self-ownership. While religions differ vastly on theology, almost all religions agree at the core on the basic morality of these rights, and non-religious people also accept their own self-ownership and the rights of other people based on their own self-ownership.

The really important things in morality are not hairy or ambiguous at all.

Re:I'd be surprised if this can be made really use (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16320005)

Randite asshole

Re:I'd be surprised if this can be made really use (1)

dsanfte (443781) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319773)

The 'furor' of the abortion question is almost entirely an American phenomenon. Aside from sporadic and muffled condemnation from the Vatican now and then, Europe doesn't dwell on the issue, and in Canada it's been off the political radar for years.

Maybe someday you guys will see the whole abortion thing for what it really is: a proxy fight over the role of religion in public policymaking.

Re:I'd be surprised if this can be made really use (1)

javilon (99157) | more than 7 years ago | (#16320083)

"Deciding what to trust and who to trust is a problem that Google can't solve in general."

What you are talking about is the problem of authority.

Before, we used to delegate authority on newspapers, radio and TV. When they tell us something, we assume that it has been researched and that is somehow accurate. The problem with this approach is that you need to Trust them, and history has shown us that this trust is sometimes misplaced (see prewar Nazi propaganda).

The effect of the internet is that we have more sources of information, not as authoritative, but also, not controled by special interests, so you decide what to trust. In my opinion, this is the best of the possible situations, but it will probably end toguether with net neutrality, when big corporations control the flow of information again.

If google where to succeed with their system, you would be placing your trust on their algorithm, something that would take you back to the original problem. Do you trust Google?

Re:I'd be surprised if this can be made really use (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16320119)

there is no real objective truth to be had there because it is a strictly moral question

Let's not beat around the bush. Abortion should remain a private choice for one simple reason: because there will never be a consensus on whether or not it is morally wrong. Not even close. Therefore, the only fair "solution" is no solution at all -- each individual must decide for themselves whether abortion is morally wrong. (Government should neither prohibit nor subsidize abortion, because either way is oppressive to somebody. Government should simply stay out of it.)

Contrast this with theft, fraud, or physical force -- if you actually took a poll on whether or not these acts are morally wrong, you would find a near 100% consensus. That is because as human beings, we universally recognize aggression (an initiation of force against another person) as a violation of individual rights. This is a simple product of evolution: we have evolved to respect each other (well, most of us) because it benefits our species as a whole. Even the ones who would violate the principle of individual rights for their own benefit understand they have done something morally wrong -- any sane human being can recognize what constitutes force and what constitutes voluntary association. It is truly "common sense", quite unlike the case of abortion.

(In reality, any law which fails to achieve a near 100% consensus is inherently oppressive to the minority which doesn't support it, and therefore the law itself is morally wrong. But that's a topic for another day.)

Practice what you preach, Google (1)

Hao Wu (652581) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319577)

Perhaps they should apply this method to their own outlandish claim they are making.

Won't mean anything (2, Interesting)

Shotgun (30919) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319579)

Just like the politicians statements.

It was one of the Asimov books that talked about an area of science that analyzed politician's statements. The analyzed a particular politician's 2-hour speech and discover he had not said anything. That is the art of politics. Convincing people that you are on their side without makeing any promises.

I predict the Google tool will predict 0% truth in most statements, because a prerequisite will be that something was stated.

So how will they know? (3, Informative)

nyri (132206) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319595)

My bet is that they have read Expert Political Judgement [] . Professor Tetlock published his research results in the book. His study about accuracy of experts spanned over 20 years. His basic result? Well, it's all about how you think not what you think. He wrote a small essay about the results: How Accurate Are Your Pet Pundits? [] .

A quote form the article: [F]ollowing the philosopher Sir Isaiah Berlin, we classify experts as "hedgehogs" or "foxes." Hedgehogs are big-idea thinkers in love with grand theories: libertarianism, Marxism, environmentalism, etc. Their self-confidence can be infectious. They know how to stoke momentum in an argument by multiplying reasons why they are right and others are wrong.

That wins them media acclaim. But they don't know when to slam the mental brakes by making concessions to other points of view. They take their theories too seriously. The result: hedgehogs make more mistakes, but they pile up more hits on Google.

Eclectic foxes are better at curbing their ideological enthusiasms. They are comfortable with protracted uncertainty about who is right even in bitter debates, conceding gaps in their knowledge and granting legitimacy to opposing views. They sprinkle their conversations with linguistic qualifiers that limit the reach of their arguments: 'but,' 'however,' 'although.'

Because they avoid over-simplification, foxes make fewer mistakes. Foxes will often agree with hedgehogs up to a point, before complicating things: "Yes, my colleague is right that the Saudi monarchy is vulnerable, but remember that coups are rare and that the government commands many means of squelching opposition."

All politicians tell "the truth" (1)

jdavidb (449077) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319709)

They all want to make the world a better place with other people's money, and so far I've yet to hear a politician conceal this desire. They seem to think it's a good thing. So do the people who vote for them, apparently.

The kinks come in because there is a finite supply of money (no matter how much they print -- it just devalues the rest) and it usually isn't enough to cover all of the things they promised to do with it.

That's it. Politicians are really very open about what they want to do in general; they just differ on the particulars of which actions, specifically, will better the world when funded by money they take from other people. None of them hides this desire to steal, though, which is really astounding when you think about it.

'false' (1)

TempeTerra (83076) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319715)

So, some lazy bum at Google used their 'own project' day to reimplement false [] as a web service?

Truthiness predictor (3, Funny)

tempmpi (233132) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319733)

Who wants to know the truth? They should have invented the truthiness predictor.

I am a betatester for this (2, Funny)

houghi (78078) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319801)

... and it works. I did the research and it seems we have always been at war with Terrorism.

Garbage In/Garbage Out (1)

Jon Luckey (7563) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319875)

So we're supposed to get a tool that takes a politicians statement and fact checks it.

Against what? why the data on the Internet, of course.

So it might go something like this:

Step 1: Politician says "Foo is creating weapons of mass destruction"

Step 2: Google truthiness detector finds supporting statements on Wikipedia, Drudge Report, and

Step 3: Detector says "Support found"

Step 4: ?

Step 5: PROFIT!

Imagine a google like device existing in the 15th century that answered question based on common concencious in the documents exisiting at the time.

Columbus: The world is round
Ye Olde Magic Truthiness detector: APPARENTLY FALSE

Copernicus: The Earth Moves about the Sun
Ye Olde Magic Truthiness detector: APPARENTLY FALSE

Even if sources get weighted somehow, its not like nobody ever proposed injecting disinformation [] into the more traditionally reliable sources.

I think it would be hard to automate listening for the 'Ring of Truth'. Really one has to look at the source of the data and the consistancy of the data, as well as critiques of that viewpoint. Which means basically you need to review the supporting and critical data.

Isn't that what plain old google is supposed to find for you?

I don't see much new proposed here.

We (at Google) are not in charge of truth... (1)

Ruvim (889012) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319951)

The MinTruth is in charge of Truth!

Interesting experiment (1)

TheMediaWrangler (817300) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319967)

If this worked, I would like to take all of our historical transcripts from white house press conferences, political debates, fireside chats, etc (with attribution to source) and run them through the truth processor. Could we then chart how much more/less truthfull politicians are today than in the past? Could we chart the propensity of individual politicians and staffers to lie as their careers progress?

On the other hand, what is the measuring stick for truth? If it is simply to weigh the number of supporting statements vs opposing statements on the Web, then we can look forward to a massive campaign to spam the Internet with political lies (not that this doesn't already happen).

Yeah, and Homeland Security's Computers Do Too (1)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 7 years ago | (#16319973)

Cornell University News Service reports [] that:

A new research program by a Cornell computer scientist, in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh and University of Utah, aims to teach computers to scan through text and sort opinion from fact. The research is funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which has designated the consortium of three universities as one of four University Affiliate Centers (UAC) to conduct research on advanced methods for information analysis and to develop computational technologies that contribute to national security. Cornell will receive $850,000 of $2.4 million in funding provided for the consortium over three years...

The new research will use machine-learning algorithms to give computers examples of text expressing both fact and opinion and teach them to tell the difference. A simplified example might be to look for phrases like "according to" or "it is believed." Ironically, Cardie said, one of the phrases most likely to indicate opinion is "It is a fact that ..."

It could be the Google guys re going to try something like the Homeland Security guys are tryng to do. All they have done is ask some humans to use their judgement to classify some writings as "fact" and others as "opinion" and then used pretty standard data mining techniques to train a computer program to mimic that judgement against a much larger sample of texts.

The best the computer can do under these circumstances is no better than the selected human consensus can do.

However, as in word sense disambiguation [] and its application to creation of coherent lexicons, the use of humans as the standard is precisely where these approaches are failing to realize the potential of computer algorithms. There is a battle brewing within the philosophy of science over precisely this sort of standard and it is going to erupt throughout all of academia, the humanities as well as sciences.

The trigger of this eruption is the termination of the long hiatus--now nearly 50 years--of rational research into artificial intelligence. I won't go into all of the dimensions of the abominable history of artificial intelligence research, but suffice to say that with the resurgence of algorithmic information theory, things are being reformulated rapidly.

The bottom line is this:

Information and knowledge are inseparable. If you can formulate information theory consilient with computer technology you have a rational basis for artificial intelligence. Algorithmic information theory is that consilience and it has been in hibernation for decades.

The principle result of algorithmic information theory is that the shortest program that can output a text string represents the true information content of that text string. It is Ockham's Razor on steroids [] .

This doesn't mean that a computer program can be written that will find that shortest program--indeed it has been proven that such a metaprogram cannot exist in the general sense. But what it does mean is that we have an objective test of the relative truthfulness of two discriptive frameworks. The one which results in the shortest description of the world--the one that is most coherent--most consilient--that "hangs together' the best--is also the most truthful. We can still have human judgement play a part of course--but that part is put to the emperical test of now rigorously defined epistemology.

Perhaps Google is going to pursue this route. If so, they should take a clue from Netflix's million dollar prize for a better prediction algorithm [] and put even more serious funding behind the Hutter Prize for Lossless Compression of Human Knowledge. It is the future of knowledge representation.

truth not the problem... at least not in the way.. (1)

Ender Ryan (79406) | more than 7 years ago | (#16320075)

Whether or not any particular statement made by a politician is true or false has been irrelevent for quite some time. Indeed, when most politicians say anything that isn't a blindingly obvious fact, he's usually lying.

The problem is, we often all know that a politician is lying, but a large percentage of us go along with them anyway.

Haha, indeed, that reminds me of something from Sin City. Ah, here it is, found here: []

Senator Rourk: Power don't come from a badge or a gun. Power comes from lying. Lying big, and gettin' the whole damn world to play along with you. Once you got everybody agreeing with what they know in their hearts ain't true, you've got e'm by the balls.

If that's not an appropriate quote for American politics today...

no one cares (1)

misanthrope101 (253915) | more than 7 years ago | (#16320143)

Politicians are routinely caught in falsehoods. The only people who pretend to care, really, are the ones trying to discredit this politician so they can (they hope) bolster support for their own liar of choice. There is no regard for truth per se. "Truthiness," though ostensibly a joke, is what counts. What part of the truth bolsters my political or religious opinions? Well, that's the part I care about and will talk about--everything else is just noise. In fact, if outright facts, verifiable reality, contradicts my political or religious beliefs, then those "facts," that "reality," will be called into question. Hence "science doesn't prove anything," "Saddam was behind 9/11," "evolution and global warming are lies told to our children," etc. I think many people would dispute the very existence of an objective fact. At the very least, they repudiate its significance, unless it happens to bolster what they believe that day.

No, left-wingers are not immune, but they are not in power right now so their stupidity is less glaringly annoying than the self-righteous know-nothingness of the right wing. If/when they come to power again, I'll hate them too, just as I detested them when they were in office before. The annoying thing (to me) about that last sentence is that so-called conservatives will chime in just to say "well, at least you realize that the Dems lie" and that's it--again, they won't care about truth per se, but only to the extent that a mock concern for "truth" can be used to slime the opposition so the lying of their own party isn't so egregious. It's like the "draft dodger" epithet that was used on Clinton, but someone loses its currency when talking about Bush, even though everyone knows why rich kids went to the Guard rather than Vietnam.

Politics robs normal human discourse of any shred of integrity, because the need to bolster your own "side" means you have to slime the other side and stick up for things you don't really want to stick up for, just to avoid giving the other side points. Republicans aren't bad people in general (Christian Dominionists aside) and they would never, in a moment of clarity, stick up for a pedophile, but politics pushes them into that corner where they don't want to risk congressional seats, so they say "oh come on, it wasn't that bad, was it?"

Combine it with that AI press reader (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 7 years ago | (#16320179)

Is the timing a coincidence?

Some replies here made suggestions about who is cooperating in this project, what about the US Department of Homeland Security who is funding this AI search of foreign (yeah right) press for threats to the US?

less information, more thinking! (1)

neatfoote (951656) | more than 7 years ago | (#16320195)

Based on the overblown rhetoric and continent-sized generalizations in Schmidt's piece, I highly doubt that this "truth predictor" notion is anything more than a PR move aimed at keeping up consumer interest in Google in an election year. BUT if they're really trying to develop such an application, I can't see how it would be anything but a very, very bad thing.
  It's true that the Internet offers easily accessible facts, but it doesn't offer easy answers. Schmidt says that "by typing a few key words into a computer, it's possible to find out about almost any subject -- comparing prices, products and policies within seconds"-- but the danger is that many people stop at that step, assuming their few seconds of clicking has made them experts on cancer or global warming or whatever, without realizing that the real picture may be vastly more complex and nuanced than a few KB of easily accessed internet data would suggest.
  The way I see it, the problem is not that we can't get the facts, but that we've become less and less capable of (or willing to) think through their complexities once we have them. How many people on average, for example, understand or acknowledge the difference between "just false," "false, but he couldn't have known that at the time," "false, but had a reasonable probability of being true," "technically false, but was a rhetorical stand-in for truer statements too complicated to explain at the time," "false in one sense, but true in another," etc., etc.? And yet those are all important distinctions to recognize when evaluating political statements. People are already too quick to jump to conclusions-- the very last thing we need is a piece of software designed to make the jump for us, with all the monumental authority of Google to back up whatever ridiculous generalization emerges.

Obviously Video Processing (1)

tashanna (409911) | more than 7 years ago | (#16320227)

You may be thinking that this is some kind of contextual search, but you're wrong. It's a video processing system. It can identify politicians in a video clip and determine if their lips are moving. This is a great advance - hopefully they'll open-source it so that we can target people other than politicians. I've got video clips of my boss promising a raise. He seemed sincere, but you never know...

- Tash []

Wouldn't matter (4, Insightful)

sheldon (2322) | more than 7 years ago | (#16320251)

Considering you have a good portion of the population who suffers from Bush Derangement Syndrome, a condition accompanied by defending the indefensible, accusing people telling you the truth of lying, and believing people who are lying are telling you the truth. It doesn't matter.

This statement purposefully left vague to make a point.

its first use (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16320299)

The summary:
"Google CEO Eric Schmidt talks about a service which can give the probability of the accuracy of statements made by politicians, among other things. From the Reuters article, Schmidt says: "We (at Google) are not in charge of truth but we might be able to give a probability."
I'm most interested in what score this service would give to Schmidt's statement. Just for fun.
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