Stressed, Persuasive and Anxious: We Used a Hollywood Script Analysis Tool to Analyze the Debate

Sam Blake

Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake

Stressed, Persuasive and Anxious: We Used a Hollywood Script Analysis Tool to Analyze the Debate

CNN reporter Dana Bash called Tuesday's presidential debate a "shit show," NBC's Andrea Mitchell called it a "disgrace" and ABC's Martha Raddatz called it "mud wrestling in the middle of a pandemic."

But Yves Bergquist, founder of CortoAI, saw it as an opportunity to show how AI-powered software used for Hollywood scripts could reveal a candidate's underlying emotions, not always evident on camera.

"The words we use are indicative of our emotions and perceptions of social dynamics," Bergquist told dot.LA.

Corto's software analyzes texts and gauges the extent to which any one of 59 "emotional tonalites" are present, on a scale of 0-100. Anything above 75 is considered particularly salient, while values below 25 convey a notable absence.

Some of what Corto's debate analysis reveals is unsurprising. It found both candidates used language that was stressed, persuasive and anxious. Neither conveyed much happiness.

But Bergquist was impressed by how Trump's high-scoring traits mirrored a typical Hollywood drama lead. The AI "seems to confirm that Trump is being a president in character," Bergquist said.

Biden, meanwhile, "has a much more real-person personality."

Somewhat surprisingly, Corto found the former VP considerably more assertive and self-assured than Trump, while Trump was more trusting and imaginative.

"I don't want to create the impression that this is perfect science," Bergquist said. "This is really powerful but it's not a perfect tool. It's really important to remind people that what this is, is a good tool that in some ways is more nuanced than the human mind and in some ways is less nuanced."

Since 2016, Corto has worked symbiotically with the USC's Entertainment Technology Center, a think tank founded in 1993 by Star Wars creator George Lucas to support cooperative technological advancement in Hollywood. It is currently used by a variety of studios to greenlight scripts, Bergquist said. Producers use the tool to analyze whether a character's tone is hitting the mark.

The software learned to link words to emotions through a combination of text-based training and guidance from professional psychologists and psychiatrists.

Corto does not pick up on body language or tonal cues — just the words. This, however, can reveal some intriguing, between-the-lines insights.

For example, "when Corto sees aggressive behavior it also sees a lot of melancholy. And that makes sense: a lot of times when people are being aggressive they're in pain," Bergquist said.

Many who watched the debate can probably relate to that pairing.

Below are each of the candidates' ten highest and five lowest emotional tonalities according to Corto, and the five areas with the greatest difference between the two.

Trump's Top Ten

Persuasive: 95.38

Stressed: 94.23

Type A: 91.1

Depression: 88.3

Artistic: 83.85

Melancholy: 83.53

Cautious: 79.13

Neurotic: 78.82

Sociable: 78.19

Anxious: 76.7

Biden's Top Ten

Money Oriented: 90.56

Stressed: 89.03

Persuasive: 84.23

Anxious: 78.77

Insecure: 78.34

Disciplined: 78.06

Assertive: 78.06

Conscientiousness: 77.9

Melancholy: 77.01

Cautious: 75.36

Trump's Bottom Five

Happiness: 8.71

Self Assured: 16.28

Liberal: 18.64

Impulsive: 19.25

Cold: 20.39

Biden's Bottom Five

Impulsive: 18.17

Happiness: 20.41

Genuine: 24.41

Imaginative: 24.97

Emotionally Aware: 25.07

Largest Differences

Family Oriented: 38.84 (Biden: 62.48; Trump: 23.64)

Self Assured: 26.1 (Biden: 42.38; Trump: 16.28)

Trusting: 22.47 (Trump: 70.74; Biden 48.27)

Imaginative: 20.36 (Trump: 45.33; Biden 24.97)

Religion Oriented: 19.28 (Biden: 56.49; Trump: 37.21)

---

Sam Blake primarily covers entertainment for dot.LA. Find him on Twitter @hisamblake and email him at samblake@dot.LA

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LA Venture: Emilio Diez Barroso On Why Everyone Isn’t Cut Out To Be A Founder

Minnie Ingersoll
Minnie Ingersoll is a partner at TenOneTen and host of the LA Venture podcast. Prior to TenOneTen, Minnie was the COO and co-founder of $100M+ Shift.com, an online marketplace for used cars. Minnie started her career as an early product manager at Google. Minnie studied Computer Science at Stanford and has an MBA from HBS. She recently moved back to L.A. after 20+ years in the Bay Area and is excited to be a part of the growing tech ecosystem of Southern California. In her space time, Minnie surfs baby waves and raises baby people.
LA Venture: Emilio Diez Barroso On Why Everyone Isn’t Cut Out To Be A Founder
Photo: provided by LAV

On this episode of the LA Venture podcast, Bold Capital Partner Emilio Diez Barroso talks about his entrepreneurial journey, what led him to become an investor and shares the qualities he looks for when investing in companies.

Bold Capital is a Series A fund that primarily focuses its investments in deep tech and biotech companies. But, like other funds, they make excuses to invest in other companies every now and then.

“We're always interested in things that have the potential to truly transform how things are done and uplift humanity,” he said.

In his experience with investing in early stage startups, Diez Barroso said “humility and vulnerability are assets and qualities in the journey, and you don’t feel like you have to have it all together with your investors.”

Which is why he looks for people who have “this capacity to take full responsibility for how they show up and they have a vision and they have the willingness to go and execute it.”

In addition to his work at Bold Capital, Diez Barroso also runs two family offices which provide him with a surplus of knowledge in the investment space.

“I wear two very different hats,” he said, “and I invest very differently when I'm investing for myself, when I'm investing for my family, and when I'm investing for LP’s.”

But before becoming an investor, Diez Barroso got his entrepreneurial start when he arrived in Los Angeles. He admits that he failed plenty of times because unlike in Mexico, where Diez Barroso grew up, he didn’t have the same access to the contacts or resources of his family business.

“I would say yes to every opportunity that came my way,” he said, “I had started or partnered with someone and co-founded and most of them I had no idea what I was doing, so most of them really failed and a few got lucky enough to succeed.”

After learning how these startups worked and investing his own capital into several companies, he soon realized he was a much better investor than an operator.

“I think we're not all cut out for the journey,” he said, “and I don't think we should all be cut out for that journey. I think that it takes a very different character to start something from scratch.”

Throughout his own journey, Diez Barroso acknowledged that he struggled with his own identity and need to feel like the smartest person in the room. Once he better understood his own motivations, Diez Barroso was able to see that he was chasing the next reward, the next carrot.

“It's fun to close the deal and it's fun to grow the business,” Diez Barroso said. “But what I hadn't been in contact with is how much of my fuel was derived from trying to outrun the idea of not feeling good enough.”

Of course, he’s not alone. “I see a lot of entrepreneurs, activists all across fields and I can tell the difference when they're running from this fuel that is sort of very quick burning because there is an anxiety that oftentimes makes us narrow minded,” Diez Barroso said. “We are so attached to what we think should happen that we leave very little space for the possibilities.”

dot.LA Reporter Decerry Donato contributed to this post.

Click the link above to hear the full episode, and subscribe to LA Venture on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

This podcast is produced by L.A. Venture. The views and opinions expressed in the show are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of dot.LA or its newsroom.

Xos Receives Multi-Million Dollar Order for Armored EVs

David Shultz

David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

Xos Receives Multi-Million Dollar Order for Armored EVs
Xos/Loomis
The United States transportation sector is rapidly adopting electric vehicle technologies at every level. From aircrafts, to tractor trailers, to sedans and bicycles, no means of locomotion is off limits…even armored trucks.
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