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Human Language Is Biased Towards Happiness, Say Computational Linguists 86

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the didn't-analyze-slashdot dept.
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes The idea that people tend to use positive words more often the negative ones is now known as the Pollyanna hypothesis, after a 1913 novel by Eleanor Porter about a girl who tries to find something to be glad about in every situation. But although widely known, attempts to confirm the hypothesis have all been relatively small studies and so have never been thought conclusive.

Now a group of researchers at Computational Story Lab at the University of Vermont have repeated this work on a corpus of 100,000 words from 24 languages representing different cultures around the world. They first measured the frequency of words in each language and then paid native speakers to rate how they felt about each word on a scale ranging from the most negative or sad to the most positive or happy. The results reveal that all the languages show a clear bias towards positive words with Spanish topping the list, followed by Portuguese and then English. Chinese props up the rankings as the least happy. They go on to use these findings as a 'lens' through which to evaluate how the emotional polarity changes in novels in various languages and have set up a website where anybody can explore novels in this way. The finding that human language has universal positive bias could have a significant impact on the relatively new science of sentiment analysis on social media sites such as Twitter. If there is a strong bias towards positive language in the first place, and this changes from one language to another, then that is obviously an important factor to take into account.

Comment: Re:This is telling (Score 1) 365

"And you can get a keyboard for it, and OF COURSE, it runs Microsoft Office"

'Cause THAT'S what people do with tablets...

It's what they did with the MBAs they're trading in, and it's what people can do with a tablet that isn't just an electronic etch-a-sketch.

It's sad that people are carrying around devices with multicore CPUs, several GB ram and storage, wifi and HD screens, and they still have to say "sorry, I can't -- I didn't bring my computer"

Comment: Re:No steering wheel? No deal. (Score 1) 583

by vidnet (#47105989) Attached to: Google Unveils Self-Driving Car With No Steering Wheel

What kind of judgement calls are more likely to be useful in an accident situation?

1. Solving hard ethical dilemmas, such as swirving to avoid a baby carriage at the cost of running over an elderly person.

2. Out-of-the-box ingenuity, such as ramping off of the guard rail and balancing on two wheels to avoid the accident.

3. Stomping on the brakes as early as possible.

Human judgement definitely excels at 1 and 2, but in all honesty, I think 3 is the most practical. It also happens to be the one a computer would be best at.

If you exchange the 1 second human reaction time for a 1ms computer reaction time, you will go about 18km/h (11mph) slower when you hit something, dramatically increasing your and their chances of survival.

Obviously I know that you personally would be able to deftly maneuver to avoid the accident and that you'd react way faster than 1 second because you're always alert and a better than average driver (and it's not illusory superiority, because you'd have to be an idiot to believe you're good when you're average).

However, you're just one incredibly good driver, while there are a hundred million average ones. Statistically, it makes way more sense to opt for the 11mph reduction in impact speed.

Comment: Re:WTF does it do for me? (Score 1) 272

by vidnet (#46993251) Attached to: Why Mobile Wallets Are Doomed

why is paying by phone so much better than with plastic?

Why is paying with plastic so much better than by phone? Here's a transaction I had yesterday at Toys'R'Us:

1. In line, I unlocked my phone and found my loyalty card
2. The cashier pointed a scanner at my phone and read it
3. I already had the phone unlocked in my hand, so I touched it to the payment terminal.

What would I have gained by putting down my phone and taking out and swiping my credit card instead?

Comment: Re:Still waiting.... (Score 1) 205

by vidnet (#46431099) Attached to: Firefox OS Will Become the Mobile OS To Beat

This is not an insightful, quirky observation about modern, overengineered gadgets that try to do everything but fail to do anything well.

It's a tired and overused rant being perpetually parroted by people who don't even want what they're asking for.

If you were actually looking for such a phone, you'd have done a simple web search and found plenty of phones in the $30 range with over a month of standby time, like the Nokia 105.

Comment: Re:Are you a creepy guy who wants to video tape pp (Score 5, Informative) 421

by vidnet (#46297279) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should I Get Google Glass?

You shouldn't try to find $1500 worth of value in the current product. If there was, they'd be selling it to everyone.

Take a look at a list of apps and see if this is a technology you'd find fascinating, and decide based on whether you have the time and resources to invest into exploring it.

Glass today is basically like Internet access in 1994. Slow, expensive, flawed and of no practical value -- but interesting and fun for those with the time and interest to tinker with it.

Comment: There are several good indie titles (Score 5, Interesting) 669

by vidnet (#46283525) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Games Are You Playing?

There are some good indie games these days, like Gone Home; Papers, Please and Sir, You Are Being Hunted.

Gone Home does a very fine job of interactively telling a story by searching through an abandoned house.

Papers, Please is a puzzle game about ethics and paperwork, which is much more interesting than it sounds.

Sir, You Are Being hunted is a procedurally generated stealth/survival game, in which you're trying to sneak under the noses of armed gentlemen robots.

Comment: Re:Dear Slashdot... (Score 1) 160

by vidnet (#45374489) Attached to: Google Is Testing a Program That Tracks Your Purchases In the Real World

You're either confused or trolling.

This is not some fine print hidden in the bowels of the EULA, that you accept just by using a cell phone.

You have to explicitly enable the feature. When you do, there's a popup that says, and I blockquote:

Allow Google's location service to collect anonymous location data. Some data may be stored on your device. Collection may occur even when no apps are running.
Agree | Disagree

If you Agree, this feature is one of the things your anonymous data is used for.
If you Disagree, you can still use positioning, it just doesn't use Google's server side assisted positioning and anonymous user data.

Comment: Re:Dear Slashdot... (Score 4, Insightful) 160

by vidnet (#45365377) Attached to: Google Is Testing a Program That Tracks Your Purchases In the Real World

You:

they are gathering the exact same information, and unlike the NSA, don't have any rules restricting their use

The article:

Google gets permission to do this kind of tracking when Android users opt in

Do you really not see a difference between an experimental, opt-in location system and an international, clandestine spy program?

Comment: Re:Am I imagining it? (Score 1) 230

by vidnet (#45346699) Attached to: Stolen Adobe Passwords Were Encrypted, Not Hashed

I believe that users should have some responsibility in not divulging their passwords to third parties, yes.

Users gave away their gmail and facebook credentials to Adobe, without Adobe even requesting them. What kind of stewardship is that from the user?

Do you honestly believe it's fair for both users and services that any breach or malevolent admin in any service the user ever visits will compromise the entirety of the user's online identity on all services?

We should not be allowing and especially not encouraging this. Browser level, two-factor oauth everywhere.

APL hackers do it in the quad.

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