Thursday, July 31, 2014

A modest search engine proposal

How much AI technique could it possibly take for google (or something better) to do a decent job with
speechby:obama   attitude:positive   "Saul Alinsky".
I.e. "speechby:" and "attitude:" don't exist, but could, I believe be implemented pretty accurately, to see in this case if we can find any instances of Obama praising Saul Alinsky.
claims such quotes exist, but their one attempt to demonstrate it is laughable -- something vaguely like a paraphrase of an Alinsky statement, but which has, in fact the reverse sense of what the supposed "original" meant.
  Yet I think most of the world, and not just conservatives, if they have any idea who Alinsky is, will tend not to question Obama's "debt" to Alinsky -- just for the sheer number of times it's been said or implied.  For the other shoe dropping, false quotes that help demonize Alinsky, see .
The point isn't to defend Obama.  It is that I think the world would work better if the ratio of:

ability to find verifiable facts pertinent to political discussion

supply of highly opinionated and slanted "news". 

could be raised by, say, an order of magnitude.
So many assertions are made that are likely not true, but are incredibly difficult for the average person to disprove.  In this Internet era, the personal cost to write some almost free associative screed about a political point is very low, while the personal cost of finding quite a lot of pertinent facts is awfully high.
This is not to say the "average person" will look for facts to confirm or contradict what they read, but much of what they read is written by bloggers some of whom are sincere and would become users of such resources, and I do believe the emotional rewards of finding a nugget of truth versus the current pain of often fruitless search would have an effect on people's thinking habits -- maybe small at first but growing over time.
The particular proposal merely illustrates one of many sorts of resource that are missing or hard to find.  Ideas for other such resources would be welcome.

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