Truthial pursuit

Orwell.jpgCan computers determine the truth or falsity of your opinion about George W. Bush? The U.S. Department of Homeland Security hopes so, according to a September 22, 2006 press release from Cornell University:

Sorting facts and opinions for Homeland Security

What are newspapers around the world saying about the latest speech by President George W. Bush? More importantly, how much of what they are saying is factual and how much opinion? And down the line, are some of the opinions being presented as if they were facts?

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.

“Lots of work has been done on extracting factual information — the who, what, where, when,” explained Claire Cardie, Cornell professor of computer science, who is one of three co-principal investigators for the grant. “We’re interested in seeing how we would extract information about opinions.” …

(Thanks to investigator Jeanne Lenzer for bringing this to our attention.)