When Robots Read Books
Where do witches come from, and what do those places have in common? While browsing a large collection of traditional Danish folktales, the folklorist Timothy Tangherlini and his colleague Peter Broadwell, both at the University of California, Los Angeles, decided to find out. Armed with a geographical index and some 30,000 stories, they developed WitchHunter, an interactive ‘geo-semantic’ map of Denmark that highlights the hotspots for witchcraft.
The system used artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to unearth a trove of surprising insights. For example, they found that evil sorcery often took place close to Catholic monasteries.