Find out if your politics have any (artificial) intelligence

Zabaware has recently launched the site www.askthecandidates2008.com - a web page that allows visitors to ask questions to any of the 2008 U.S. presidential candidates and get an instant response based on a real quote by the candidate. You can choose between Democrats and Republicans and pose questions to more than one candidate at the same time, which enables you to compare their answers immediately.

Zabaware has loaded transcripts of all the presidential debates thus far, containing hundreds of quotes from each of the candidates, into artificial intelligence software based on the company's award-winning Ultra Hal engine. When the visitor asks a question, the AI bot version of each candidate will try to answer using a real quote from their human counterpart. In addition visitors can rate each candidate based on the quality of the response and see how the possibly soon-to-be presidents rank up against each other in this system. In the current ranking based on visitor ratings the Top Three consists of Ron Paul (Republican), Barack Obama (Democrat) and Joe Biden (Democrat), but this can easily be changed – by you, dear visitors.

Sadly, the software is not perfect (or maybe there should be some tips how to properly ask a question to get a satisfying answer); try asking for example six candidates “Do you really think you're gonna win?” and see what they “say” (or, rather, said weeks or months ago). One of them asked “Have you seen ‘Prison Break’?” replied: Well, I have long supported incentive pay for school wide performance. You know, what we're trying to do is to change the culture within schools and to provide the resources, the training and the support that teachers need to do the job they do want to do. And particularly focusing on kids who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, I think you have to start with preschool, even before pre-kindergarten. I've advocated universal pre-kindergarten. I think you have to start even earlier to try to help the family be the best school and teaching opportunity for their own children. You have to reform No Child Left Behind. We're going to try to do that and begin to make it much more in line with the reality of teaching. But I think that we've got to have a real conversation with our teachers, our students and our parents, because basically you can walk in a classroom today and it looks very much like the classroom I walked into, you know, 50 years ago. And we have changed as a nation. We don't live and work the same way. But we act as though our schools are somehow off limits to trying to bring technology and other changes to them.

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