Applying PID control to Media coverage of politics

(photo from

This idea came from a student, Bernardo Limon Villarreal, who suggested recording the sounds of people on the stock market trading floor – categorizing the sounds by how they match simultaneously occuring market trends , ie., optimistic, pessimistic, up, down, neutral, panic, etc.,

A speaker system feed some of these sounds back to the trading floor in an attempt to psychologically influence traders’ behavior.

Later on I started thinking about the idea of “horse race” stories in media coverage of politics. There is a theory (conspiracy) that its in the best interest of corporate media for political races to be close. So, for example, if Republicans are leading, then the “media” will air stories which favor Democrats in an effort to sway public opinion against Republicans. A continuous feedback mechanism which tries to maintain a ‘close race’.

This idea is similar to how a phase locked loop or PID controller maintains a constant temperature given varying environmental factors. It would be interesting to build a media “machine” which uses the results of opinion polls as the sensor input and always targets a 50/50 result by producing stories which with positive or negative bias, as needed.

In some ways this represents a fundamental principle of advertising.