Content analysis for bots
This story has been making the rounds; I'll link to the Raw Story version because I like the headline: Revealed: Air Force ordered software to manage army of fake virtual people. Here's the key graf:
Though many questions remain about how the military would apply such technology, the reasonable fear should be perfectly clear. "Persona management software" can be used to manipulate public opinion on key information, such as news reports. An unlimited number of virtual "people" could be marshaled by only a few real individuals, empowering them to create the illusion of consensus.
You could call it a virtual flash mob, or a digital "Brooks Brothers Riot," so to speak: compelling, but not nearly as spontaneous as it appears.
Of course, to anybody who experienced the comment threads at The Obama 527 Formerly Known as Daily Kos in 2008, and who remembers that Obama campaign manager David Axelrod's day job was corporate Astroturfing, the question immediately arises whether the term "Obot" was not dehumanizing snark, but completely accurate:
Here's the sig I thought of using at Kos (2008-01-25) before the end:
* OFB PROPHLACTIC Yes, I am paid by the Hillary campaign. Yes, I hope to get a job in Hillary's administration. Yes, I am a shill. Yes, I am a hack. Yes, I am a liar. Yes, I am a racist. Yes, I am a purist. Yes, I am a troll. Yes, I am ignorant. Yes, I hate Obama. Yes, I ignore all facts that don't square with my [lying|racist|purist|shilling|hackish|trollish] preconceptions of Obama. Yes, my reading comprehension is poor. Yes, I have a hidden agenda: I hope that the Democrats lose, and to that end I support [not Obama]. Yes, I could be older than you. Yes, I think all young people are stupid. Did I mention I'm a shill and a hack? Good. Anything else?
Looks to me, in retrospect, that what I developed for my sig is a good first cut for reverse engineering the script that Axelrod's bots were using. The language of the OFB really was that repetitious.