Truly rousing political speeches are, sadly, few and far between. But those that are a little less inspiring can, it turns out, be convincingly written by an artificial intelligence system. Yes, politicians may be a little like robots. Researchers from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, have created an AI that they have trained using 4000 political speech segments from 53 US Congressional floor debates. The learning technique uses an approach known as n-grams, which was made famous by Google and searches out sequences of "n" words or phrases to understand how text is constructed.
The software was forced to chomp through 50,000 sentences, containing an average of 23 words, each of which was tagged with political allegiance and whether the speaker was for or against the topic they were discussing. Eventually, it learned enough to convincingly put one word after the next when started off with the seed of a speech that's just five words long. With the addition of some extra helping hands, so that the software could intelligently choose what topics to refer to in the future based on what it had already said, it was ready to compete with the likes of Trump and Bush.
Here's an example of the kind of thing it produces:
Mr. Speaker, for years, honest but unfortunate consumers have had the ability to plead their case to come under bankruptcy protection and have their reasonable and valid debts discharged. The way the system is supposed to work, the bankruptcy court evaluates various factors including income, assets and debt to determine what debts can be paid and how consumers can get back on their feet. Stand up for growth and opportunity. Pass this legislation.
Not bad, eh? While it's unlikely that an AI will replace a political speech writer any time soon — the subtleties of spin are, perhaps, slightly beyond its grasp right now — the team reckons the software could be useful in automating the creation of political news stories.
Image by AP