“Now do your part. Tonight I ask Congress to move quickly and decisively in confirming Judge Anthony Kennedy to the Moon.” No president ever said this, but it’s based on words spoken by Presidents Clinton and Reagan. It comes from a speech generated by our State of the Union Machine.
In preparation for President Obama’s annual address to Congress next week, we gave our State of the Union Machine an upgrade. The project generates a random address based on a customizable mix of previous president’s speeches, and now includes last year’s address and a messaging tour that the White House calls a “spoiler alert.”
Obama’s new approach to drumming up interest in his policies before the address allows us to incorporate those speeches into the State of the Union Machine, creating a dash of folksiness to an executive branch word gumbo. The project is a bit like a robot that learns how to fill in the blanks by finding the probability of a word given its preceding context. A presidential robot — one that makes less and less sense the more presidents you choose to include.
Go 50-50 on Obama and Reagan, see a mix of the presidents named “George” and maybe, just maybe, get a close copy of the speech Congress will hear on Tuesday. We’ll see how close we got once the final copy is published next week.
After selecting a mix of the presidents you’d like, highlight your favorite quote found in the generated text and share it using #SOTUMachine. Have fun!