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Automating the climate debate

Dan Farber, professor of law | November 9, 2010

The claims of climate deniers are so repetitive that someone has figured out how to automate the Twitter wars:

Getting into a climate change debate on Twitter could be even more exhausting than it sounds now that a software developer named Nigel Leck has automated the process. Tired of arguing with climate change deniers in 140 character quips, the programmer wrote a script to do it for him. Chatbot @AI_AGW scans Twitter every five minutes searching for hundreds of phrases that fit the usual denier argument paradigm. Then it serves them up some science.

Those responses are pulled from a database of hundreds of responses that the software matches up to the argument made by the original tweeter. Those who claim the entire solar system is warming are met with something like: “Sun’s output has barely changed since 1970 & is irrelevant to recent global warming” followed by a link to corresponding scientific research.

The next step will undoubtedly be a  counter-move by climate denialists.  Their positions should be even easier to program.  Then the climate debate can continue on its own, free from any actual human involvement.  It’s the next big thing: truly mindless political debate.

By the way, one of the problems with Chatbot @AI_AGW is that it doesn’t recognize sarcasm.

Cross-posted from the environmental law and policy blog Legal Planet, a Berkeley Law-UCLA Law collaboration.