Published on November 17th, 2010 | by Zachary Shahan0
Climate Change Chatbot: For When You’re Tired of Explaining Climate Science to Climate Deniers…
November 17th, 2010 by Zachary Shahan
There are many reasons to promote clean energy — it creates more jobs than dirty energy, it improves national security, it improves our health, AND, it helps prevent or minimize the effects of global warming.
Of course, one of the more well-known reasons is this latter one (that clean energy helps address global warming), but the problem is, there are still a ton of people who don’t understand climate science and don’t realize there isn’t any doubt that global warming is happening and it’s caused by humans. (Of course, where is the surprise? 20% of Americans think the Sun revolves around the Earth, about the same percentage think Obama is a Muslim, and 26% of us don’t seem to know who we got our independence from.)
Well, one informed person tired of debating conclusive climate science with climate change deniers decided to put the responsibility into someone else’s hands, a Twitter chatbot’s (@AI_AGW).
Software developer Nigel Leck created this climate-science-informed chatbot, which can go on for days arguing with climate deniers on Twitter.
How Does the Chatbot Work?
Christopher Mims of Technology Review writes:
Every five minutes, it searches twitter for several hundred set phrases that tend to correspond to any of the usual tired arguments about how global warming isn’t happening or humans aren’t responsible for it.
It then spits back at the twitterer who made that argument a canned response culled from a database of hundreds. The responses are matched to the argument in question — tweets about how Neptune is warming just like the earth, for example, are met with the appropriate links to scientific sources explaining why that hardly constitutes evidence that the source of global warming on earth is a warming sun.
The chatbot is apparently smart enough to not repeat the same response in a conversation, even if its counterpart uses the same argument again. (The truth is, there are normally numerous scientific articles refuting climate denier claims.)
Unfortunately, the one weakness of this chatbot is an inability to detect sarcasm, so it also replies to those who understand climate science but are making a sarcastic comment like “2010 hottest year on record so far,.. clearly, global warming is a myth.” But Leck keeps up with the comments, apologizes when such a thing happens, and whitelists these accounts.
Additionally, it has a little difficulty when people essentially give up on the science and make general, religious claims. “If [the chatbot] actually argues them into a corner, it tends to be two crowds out there,” says Leck. “There’s the guns and God crowd, and their parting shot will be ‘God created it that way’ or something like that. I don’t know how you answer that.” (The second crowd are just completely unwavering climate science skeptics,.. maybe some of the same folks who think the Sun revolves around the Earth.)
Leck has more plans for @Al_AGW on the way. He wants the chatbot to develop an ability to learn more about climate science (or, more accurately, how to argue anti-climate science) on its own.
“In the future, Leck would like to expand AI_AGW by giving it the ability to learn new arguments from the twitter feeds of others who debate climate skeptics – allowing it to argue into the ground an ever expanding array of anti-science tweeters who are unwilling or unable to look up the proper scientific literature themselves.”
Looks like a good way to save yourself some energy, time, and unnecessary frustration.
Photo Credit: à voir etc… via flickr (CC license)
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