Like how modern encryption methods keep secrets based on the principle that certain mathematical operations are fundamentally hard to reverse, the success of modern democracy depends on the principle that influence over public sentiment is fundamentally hard to sustain. Candidates can learn how to “work a crowd” but it's notoriously hard to keep them after they've left the auditorium, because there's still the onslaught of media. No candidate can learn the reflexes necessary to work all crowds under all circumstances, and a man who fares well behind a teleprompter may crack in a one-on-one interview with an attack-dog journalist, or make a slip of the tongue to the wrong minority group, or have the wrong reaction to something dredged up from his past.Again reaching beyond what's currently possible, I do believe this is something thad could theoretically be implemented in the future: given a powerful enough AI technology and a sophisticated mastery of linguistics (leaving a neural network to study a large corpus of old and new political speeches may be a starting point?) I don't see why not... Cool anyway!
Influencing groups of voters over the long-haul is hard, but it is possible, and where there's a sympathy there's a way.
Imagine someone wrote the first truly Write-By-Wire word processor. No matter how clumsy your linguistic skills, or how drunk you were that night, it can make you sound like Shakespeare. Load a different author profile into its memory and it'll make you sound like John F. Kennedy's speech-writer. Anything you type will be parsed for intent and translated into incendiary prose. And better yet, if you give it access to demographic data on your audience, it'll tailor your speech with all the gifts of the best evangelists, proselytizers and revivalists, studied and encoded by master linguists and engineers. Add biofeedback devices, and a performance modified on-the-fly, and even Al Gore could rouse a crowd.
Anders Jacobsen |
[weblog / photography]