Text analysis to anticipate genocide

HatebaseA new database project attempts to identify impending genocide by spotting key textual indicators.  It’s crowdsourced, called Hatebase, and a co-sponsor describes it like so:

Hatebase, an authoritative, multilingual, usage-based repository of structured hate speech which data-driven NGOs can use to better contextualize conversations from known conflict zones.

A fascinating idea, one part digital humanities, one part pre-crime.  It can also be localized, as a

critical concept in Hatebase is regionality: users can associate hate speech with geography, thus building a parallel dataset of “sightings” which can be monitored for frequency, localization, migration, and transformation.

(via Slashdot)

Crowdsourcing predictions

Here’s a little example of crowdsourcing predictions from Hacker News.  Heavy on tech and startups.

Delphi pools: a futures blast from the past

Speaking of crowdsourcing futures, here’s an interesting prediction of prediction methods.  Delphi Pools, by John Brunner, in his amazing Shockwave Rider (1975):

John Brunner portrait

It works, approximately, like this.

First you corner a large – if possible, a very large – number of people who, while they’ve never formally studied the subject you’re going to ask them about and hence are unlikely to recall the correct answer, are nonetheless plugged into the culture to which the question relates.

Then you ask them, as it might be, to estimate how many people died in the great influenza epidemic which followed World War I…

Curiously, when you consolidate their replies they tend to cluster around the actual figure as recorded in almanacs, yearbooks and statical returns.

It’s rather as though this paradox has proved true: that while nobody knows what’s going on around here, everybody knows what’s going on around here.

Well, if it works for the past, why can’t it work for the future? Three hundred million people with access to the integrated North American data-net is a nice big number of potential consultees.

1975, friends.  Pretty nicely done, down to the number of folks living in the US.

Subcategory: sf about futures methods.

(thanks to hippybear at MetaFilter); image via Abode of Chaos)

Crowdsourcing the digital future

Predicting the Future of Computing is a New York Times crowdsourcing project.  Users can vote up or down individual predictions.  We used to be able to submit predictions, too, for editorial vetting, but those are closed now, it seems.

Sample slice, 3/4ths of columns.

(via MetaFilter)