Twitter bot debate brings novel back to life

A Twitter Bot inspired by George Orwell’s novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, will be the subject of a debate at the forthcoming Wolverhampton Literature Festival.

The ‘Newspeak’ Bot, which was developed by the University of Wolverhampton in collaboration with Birmingham-based AI and chatbot specialists, Daden Ltd, translates high-profile Twitter feeds (Donald Trump, BBC News and Number 10 Downing Street) into Newspeak – the language of control that Orwell invented for the totalitarian state in his dystopian classic.

Professor Sebastian Groes, a lecturer in English Literature in the School of Humanities at the University, said: “We were inspired to create the Twitter Bot because there are many elements of Orwell’s dystopian novel that mirror today’s society – especially in relation to language and communication.

“Many people feel we are currently living in a dystopia not far removed from Nineteen Eighty-Four. We seem to be ruled by megalomaniac world leaders of superstates at perpetual war with one another, who are producing communications radically divorced from reality.

“By creating a Twitter Bot that turns mainstream Tweets into Newspeak we are highlighting the fact that, like in Orwell’s novel, memory is weakened by information overload and other strategies of distraction. It seems that technology is thrashing coherent thought, and personal relationships are randomly assembled by computers – in short, we’re merely chunks of information collected in databases.”

At the Wolverhampton Literature Festival, the Bot’s designer David Burden (Daden Ltd), Dr Sarah Slater (Computer Science, Wolverhampton) and Professor Sebastian Groes will debate the project during an event on Friday 26th January 2018 at 4.30 pm in the Contemporary Gallery in the Wolverhampton Art Gallery.

Picture courtesy of Tessa Postuuma De Boer.

ENDS

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