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Truth Teller App


This essay does not describe an existing computer program, just one that should exist. This essay is about a suggested student project in Java programming. This essay gives a rough overview of how it might work. I have no source, object, specifications, file layouts or anything else useful to implementing this project. Everything I have prepared to help you is right here.

This project outline is not like the artificial, tidy little problems you are spoon-fed in school, when all the facts you need are included, nothing extraneous is mentioned, the answer is fully specified, along with hints to nudge you toward a single expected canonical solution. This project is much more like the real world of messy problems where it is up to you to fully the define the end point, or a series of ever more difficult versions of this project and research the information yourself to solve them.

Everything I have to say to help you with this project is written below. I am not prepared to help you implement it; or give you any additional materials. I have too many other projects of my own.

Though I am a programmer by profession, I don’t do people’s homework for them. That just robs them of an education.

You have my full permission to implement this project in any way you please and to keep all the profits from your endeavour.

Please do not email me about this project without reading the disclaimer above.

I do not have a clear idea of how this app will work. I am just clear on the need. There was an election in BC on 2013-05-14. The Premier of BC, Christy Clark, won the election by lying through her teeth over and over. No matter how many times her lies were exposed, she would just repeat them.

What I am after is something that would put a spoke in her gears or the gears of similar fact-ignoring politicians. She would lie about matters of public record. She claimed Moody’s had certified her deficit budget as balanced which Moody’s denied. She claimed her budgets were balanced when she had racked up more debt than any administration in history.

The idea is to catch politicians and industry spokespeople on easily verifiable facts — what was spent on what, did X say Y, was A convicted of B? The catch is, if you rely on the general public to determine facts, they can be just as corrupt as the politician and lie through their teeth too, or just agree mindlessly along partisan lines without thought.

Perhaps you need AI (Artificial Intelligence) to do the fact checking. Perhaps you have to scan Wikipedia which has ways of resolving facts. Perhaps you can ask subscribers to flag questionable statements and keep a history of how accurately they mirror the eventual truth consensus and give them extra weight. You try to identify people who will flag lies by their favoured politicians and concede as true statements by the opposition.

The idea is you could use the app while watching a political debate, political ad or political statement and be warned about likely lies or flag likely lies. Even if were not perfect, politicians might become less casual in their lying. If everything they say sets off triggers, they are going to lose credibility.

Note this is not a lie detector looking for subliminal clues in the voice or body language of the politician. Christy Clark is an utterly convincing liar (trained to bluff as a talk show host). She fools even herself.

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