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Would you be willing to share your Facebook and Twitter posts with a car company to find out how positive you are?

For Sept. 13, International Positive Thinking Day, Chevy made a Global Positivity System (GPS), with artificial intelligence provided by IBM Watson. When granted access to your Facebook or Twitter accounts, it taps into Watson’s Personality Insights and AlchemyLanguage APIs to find your most and least positive posts and give you a positivity score. My Twitter activity got a 128 out of 200. But exactly what these numbers mean, I couldn’t tell you.

GPS then offers recommendations for how to live a more positive life, like learning a new instrument or visiting a museum.

As part of the International Positive Thinking Day, Chevy is partnering with New Orleans, Buenos Aires, and Cape Town to give free gas to people based on their positivity scores.


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The Global Positivity System is available in six languages, including French, Spanish, and Arabic.


The posts GPS identified for me as most positive seemed to be anything with a “thank you” in it. Looking at a graph of most commonly used positive words, I felt that perhaps (a) not enough information was considered or (b) it was pseudo-science.

On the other hand, GPS only harnesses part of the power of the Watson’s Personality Insights A.I.; for example, you’re only told three of your top personality traits, instead of your top five.

The program’s analysis of celebrities and world leaders offers a more complete look at its capabilities.

After the A.I. analyzed 33,000 words from Pope Francis’ tweets, the pontiff was described as unconventional, unconcerned with tradition, and confident. With more than 15,000 words, Oprah was described as helpful, analytical, emotionally aware, and guided by both tradition and independence.

GPS isn’t just a Watson A.I. preview. It’s also a sample of the IBM Watson marketing machine, as is the appearance of Watson on Sesame Street and at the U.S. Open last week.

Watson can impress and inspire, and it has real methodology and science behind it. But it’s also a marketing machine — part of the reason people criticize artificial intelligence as being less of a technological breakthrough and more about sales and hype.

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