An Israeli algorithm sheds light on the Bible

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by Neil Godfrey

So goes the Yahoo News headline of an Associated Press article by Matti Friedman: http://news.yahoo.com/israeli-algorithm-sheds-light-bible-163128454.html

It’s a frustrating article. One looks in vain for details of who developed the software, under what funding program they did so, and any other associations of the developers and funders. But one does read that a certain Michael Segal of the Hebrew University’s Bible Department was NOT involved in the project! But I suppose the “Israeli” label in a headline speaking of the Bible does have power to attract attention among many bible believers.

We read of the program:

The program, part of a sub-field of artificial intelligence studies known as authorship attribution, has a range of potential applications — from helping law enforcement to developing new computer programs for writers. But the Bible provided a tempting test case for the algorithm’s creators.

How could the Bible possibly provide a “test case” for law enforcement applications? Is a scholarly construct of criteria for priestly and yahwist identifiers in OT texts to be used as verification tool to determine real life criminal guilt?

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