Election season has always felt like kind of a dog and pony show. Fortunately, the folks at Fusion have opted to lean in to the whole pageantry thing with their Political Image Machine, which lets users search through a curated database of thoroughly staged photo opportunities from the current crop of presidential candidates.
The way Fusion’s app works is simple: They pulled 70,000 images from every candidate’s social media accounts, and tagged everything they found on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram by a variety of relevant descriptors. You can just click “stage” and see every candidate’s image taken on a stage, or you can get more specific–just want Instagram shots of dogs with/for Ben Carson? Select the candidate, the platform, and the tag and find shots of both people and animals you would potentially be uncomfortable letting perform brain surgery on yourself or a loved one.
The execution isn’t flawless–Fusion used the “deep-learning” tool Clarifai to tag the images, and some of the results are weird (the “zombies” tag, for example, features very few zombies, which is a real missed opportunity). That can be instructive too, though–at the very least, we know that computers are really good at identifying cats and dogs–and some of the tags are pretty funny. (The sea of blue Hillary signs got misinterpreted by the algorithm as an actual sea and was thus tagged “water sports.”) Other tags are significantly more effective–if you’re in the market of shots of Martin O’Malley or Mike Huckabee rocking out, the “guitar” tag will get you what you’re after–and in any case, your meme-generating needs should be met over the next twelve months of election-mania.DS