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machine and human apophenia

created for The New Inquiry's Conspiracy issue

view it live here


before installing requirements, install dlib dependencies:

sudo apt-get install build-essential cmake libgtk-3-dev libboost-all-dev -y

to setup darknet (for the yolo object recognition model):

git clone
cd darkflow
python3 build_ext --inplace
pip install -e .

the model weights are linked to in that repo. is from the model weights are linked to in that repo as well.

phantomjs is necessary to screenshot websites. download from:

wget -O phantomjs.tar.bz2
tar jxf phantomjs.tar.bz2
sudo mv phantomjs-2.1.1-linux-x86_64/bin/phantomjs /usr/local/bin/

tesseract for OCR:

sudo apt-get install tesseract-ocr

many images are sourced from wikipedia commons. you can grab the latest dump here:, extract it to assets/commonswiki-latest-image.sql, then run from that directory to build image urls from the dump. this will take a long time

note that this doesn't download the images. you can download a random sample of these commons urls like so:

from images import sampler

this program expects to be registered as a listener for reality, which creates a FIFO file (fifo) that polls for new articles to process. run to listen to the FIFO queue and automatically run object/face detection on new images.


to generate a conspiracy, run

you can view the latest conspiracy by running an HTTP server from public/, e.g.:

cd public
python3 -m http.server