Being a world leader is rough. Sometimes you have to work late, or even talk to people who don’t like you. All you really want to do, of course, is talk on the telephone.
Fortunately, there’s now a Twitter bot to help leaders navigate the difficulties of geopolitics: worldleadertips
worldleadertips is simple. It assumes that "Real world leaders today know what they want: to talk on the phone." Then it uses data about ongoing world events to figure out how to maximize phone time that week. Finally, it tweets advice to individual world leaders.
The bot does its calculations by checking what different heads of state are up to using GDELT, a database with a checkered history that scrapes the internet for information on world events and translates them into data. GDELT ranks how bad or good an event is on the Goldstein Scale, which assigns values between -10 and +10 to different types of world events (an assassination or bombing is a -10, offering economic aid is a +7.4). worldleadertips operates on the assumption that above all, world leaders want to maintain a 1.0, which is the Goldstein value of…making a phone call.
After figuring out what the world leader in question should do that week to maintain maximum phone time, the bot renders a handy explanatory graphic, which it tweets at the leader or country in question.
If the leader is already on track to make a phone call, worldleadertips gives them a pat on the back.
The bot is the brainchild of Brian Clifton and the second project of Useless Press, a new-ish “publishing collective that creates eclectic Internet things” edited by Adrian Chen, Alix Rule, and Sam Lavigne (disclosure: Lavigne also works on Fusion's election team).
Depending on how deeply you take Useless Press's mission statement to heart, worldleader tips exists simply for itself, or as an elaborate joke about the arbitrariness of a strand of international relations thought represented by GDELT. But maybe, as all our jobs are slowly automated, worldleadertips can take its existence a step farther and seize the mantle of leadership, and teleconferencing, for itself.
Ethan Chiel is a reporter for Fusion, writing mostly about the internet and technology. You can (and should) email him at firstname.lastname@example.org