Just what we need: sarcasm software
Computers are getting better at understanding human languages, thanks partly to algorithms that can analyse sentences for positive or negative sentiments, says Ari Rappoport of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. But picking up on sarcasm is still a problem. “In many cases, sarcasm is difficult even for people to recognise”, never mind computers, he says.
Rappoport and colleagues wrote a sentiment-analysing program. They then trained this software to recognise sarcasm by feeding it sentences that had been flagged up by human reviewers as likely to contain sarcasm.
The team used the trained program to analyse a selection of product reviews on Amazon.com and a random selection of posts on Twitter. Three human volunteers were asked to rate the same material for sarcastic content.
The algorithm agreed with the volunteers 77 per cent of the time for Amazon.com product reviews and 83 per cent of the time for the tweets.
Yeah, right. And I’ve got a bridge to sell you.
Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
I read that someone has also invented a character to insert into online conversations to indicate sarcasm – looks sort of like a deformed @.