Supercomputer predicts revolution
Baku, September 12 (AZERTAC). Feeding a supercomputer with news stories could help predict major world events, according to US research.
A study, based on millions of articles, charted deteriorating national sentiment ahead of the recent revolutions in Libya and Egypt.
While the analysis was carried out retrospectively, scientists say the same processes could be used to anticipate upcoming conflict.
The system also picked up early clues about Osama Bin Laden`s location.
Kalev Leetaru, from the University of Illinois` Institute for Computing in the Humanities, Arts and Social Science, presented his findings in the journal First Monday.
The study`s information was taken from a range of sources including the US government-run Open Source Centre and BBC Monitoring, both of which monitor local media output around the world.
News outlets which published online versions were also analysed, as was the New York Times` archive, going back to 1945.
In total, Mr Leetaru gathered more than 100 million articles.
Data was fed into an SGI Altix supercomputer, known as Nautilus, based at the University of Tennessee.
In each case, the aggregated results of thousands of news stories showed a notable dip in sentiment ahead of time - both inside the country, and as reported from outside.
For Egypt, the tone of media coverage in the month before President Hosni Mubarak`s resignation had fallen to a low only seen twice before in the preceding 30 years.
Previous dips coincided with the 1991 US aerial bombardment of Iraqi troops in Kuwait and the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.
Similar drops were seen ahead of the revolution in Libya and the Balkans conflicts of the 1990s.
In his report, Mr Leetaru suggests that analysis of global media reports about Osama Bin Laden would have yielded important clues about his location.
However, the geo-analysis narrowed him down to within 200km, said Mr Leetaru.
The computer event analysis model appears to give forewarning of major events, based on deteriorating sentiment.
However, in the case of this study, its analysis is applied to things that have already happened.
According to Kalev Leetaru, such a system could easily be adapted to work in real time, giving an element of foresight.