Who can deny that human beings have been mostly depressed over this past year? Certainly not me. There are many exceptions that partially invalidate this assessment but my general feeling for 2010 has been and still is a pessimistic one.
And what if our humankind mood had such an influential power that it could modify the future ? This round-about idea is not that crazy according to Cliff High and his associate George Ure. Their brilliant association led them in 1997 to one of the greatest and at the same time most challenging software ever designed: Web Bot. Initially, it was basically created to predict stock market trends. But Web Bot’s tasks quickly overtook this target to aim a more noble purpose (subjective I guess). I don’t know in what circumstances this light change in Web Bot’s programmings happened but it ended up scanning attentively and analysing the whole humankind mood, and so, be able to predict what would happen in the future. In other words, scanning the world’s collective unconscious (how about twitter doing this?).
This sci-fi alike scenario would be great if it wasn’t just a half-accurate one. Web Bot’s aim is simply to monitor news articles, blogs, forums, and other forms of Internet chatter, collect the most searched keywords, give them values for emotional quantifiers in various languages (just like Google crawls the internet but looking for trends rather than simply indexing the web). Don’t feel like it’s spying on you (Google or Facebook are much worst)… Web Bot acts as a mere report tool in a first level and as a perfect computer on the second one. Using algorithms and other combinations Web Bot’s designers have never accepted to give out the code itself, the software computes tendencies and publishes this way predictions for the close future. Those informations are then sold, conclusions published as reports and regularly commented.
Among all the predictions made by Web Bot (ok, let’s call them predicates), some of them were accurate:
-9/11 events in America, described in June 2001 a catastrophic event would occur within the next 60–90 days «an event that would change American citizens life forever »
-Crash of space ship Columbia in 2003
-The 2004 tsunami in Asia
-Hurricane Katrina and all its damages in 2005.
Obviously, it is easy to boast about being able to predict the future and having well predicted an event afterwards. If ever Web Bot’s mathematics operations are scientific, the results published aren’t necessarily so. Because in the end, what guarantee do we have that those predictions were there before the events ? Quite a few questions remain around Web Bot and its predictions. The designers proclaim that Web Bot doesn’t make predictions but something more like « predicates ».
Once more, it is all about trends, Web Bot is not adamant, it just shows where things converge and where they could end up. Of course, we can be doubtful about the science of the results but not only. If we overtake the fact that it is extremely hard to verify when data has been published, the process in itself is particularly interesting : scanning and computing keywords would be the way to predict the future. Those keywords orientate the software on what attracts attention and warns us all on our own worries. Knowing about the deepest human anguish would be the shortest way to the future. Web Bot works on the collective unconscious, on the mood tendencies of the whole humankind and so, at the same time, on the worst sides of ourselves as Web Bot mainly predicts unpleasant facts.
For instance, 2011 we shall be seeing the Third World War after the devaluation of the US dollar, important crisis caused by famines and above all, dangerous nuclear provocations between countries. This terrible war would end up in 2012 on a New World Order. This New World Order or at least the concept belongs to those big « internet stories » about plot theories and quite paranoid ideas about the end of the world. This is another interesting « web story » and I’ll leave it for the next article…
In the meanwhile you can check their latest predictions (mmmmm buy them I guess) on their site Half Past Human (where they’re plublished) and decide whether Clif is crazy, just trying to grab a few $$ for some lucky guesses or a modern Nostradamus (very American all this btw).