ByMeghann Elisa, writer at
'Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?'
Meghann Elisa

Like most Harry Potter book and movie fans, I definitely have some strong opinions on the way the original stories were translated into film — and as it turns out, so does IBM technology platform Watson.

If you haven't heard of Watson, then allow me to introduce you. Named after Thomas J. Watson, IBM's first CEO, Watson is a question-answering computer system that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of data. The machine is so smart that it was able to win $1 million competing on Jeopardy! in 2011.


By analyzing written text, Watson is able to identify different tones like fear, joy, confidence and openness, and it can also assess personality traits based on the Big Five Personality Test, which measures extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness.

Perhaps most exciting of all is Watson's ability to watch movies, which was revealed in a recent conversation it had with film director Ridley Scott. As a result of this revelation, the folks over at Tech Insider decided to put that skill to the test by asking Watson to analyze the Harry Potter movies and books, rank their different traits and assess how the book characters contrast to their movie counterparts.


Research staff member Vinith Misra, who was tasked with feeding Watson the text, soon reported back on its findings. Here are the results:

Neville And Voldemort Are Actually Pretty Similar

"I think part of it is that Voldemort and Neville are very extreme characters.
"Voldemort is very high on neuroticism — it makes sense this guy is basically coming out in secret and has this master plan he must execute and anyone can screw it up. The guy has a lot of paranoia around him."

But while their scores were similar, Neville actually ranked the highest out of all the characters for neuroticism in both the books and movies, which isn't really surprising. Both Neville and Voldemort ranked low on "openness to experience."

Voldemort And Harry Are Just As Angry As Each Other

"No one will be surprised to see Voldemort at the top of list, but Harry is also very high on the anger list in the books. That's interesting because, in some ways, he's a pollyannic character — he's perfect in lots of ways, but he does have some personality flaws and that would be he is prone to anger."

It actually doesn't shock me that Harry was ranked right behind Voldemort in the anger stakes. Not only does the boy wizard share a special connection and certain traits with Voldemort, he also exhibits a lot of pretty typical teen angst in both the movies and the books. And with his horrendous childhood and intense adolescence, who can blame him?

Ginny Was Dumbed Down For The Movies — And Ron Was The Comic Relief

"In the book, she doesn't wait around for Harry — she's very can-do, but they simplified and boiled down her character [in the movies].
"[Ron] loses some anxiety and becomes a little less friendly as the books go on and things become darker. That progression is something seen in the movies, but not as starkly."

Where intellect and gregariousness were concerned, Ginny ranked much lower in the movies than in the books, and I'm sure many fans would be happy to back that up, as she's pretty lifeless and boring on screen. Watson also picked up that Ron is the lighter character of the trio and in the movies it stays that way, whereas the books give him more depth.

Hermione Is More Assertive Than Voldemort

"[Hermione] outshines Voldemort in assertiveness. That's a quantitative example of Hermione being a strong female character."

Hermione may rank high on anger and assertiveness, but true to her character she also got the highest score for Watson's morality assessment. Even a robot can tell Hermione is strong in her convictions of what is right and wrong.

Professor McGonagall Is The Most Intelligent

While McGonagall's intellect ranking definitely seems spot-on, Hermione coming in fifth behind both Snape and Ron seems a little off. Watson found McGonagall to be one of the least affected by the book-to-movie transition.

Movie Snape Is Far Colder And More Controlled

"Snape's excitement-seeking and anger reduced noticeably [from the books to the movies]. Snape in the books is an unhinged jerk and is shouting and prone to anger. In the movies he is more cold and distant, the jerkiness about him is more in attitude and performance."

I have to say I prefer Alan Rickman's take on this one.

Hagrid Is The Most Liberal, But He Also Shows Signs Of Depression

Hagrid ranked the highest when it came to liberalism and openness, but inner turmoil was also picked up on — torment probably left over from his expulsion from Hogwarts. Hagrid didn't rank the highest for depression, of course; that honor went to Mr. Potter himself.

The Differences Between The Two Dumbledores Aren't Apparent In The Text

It's no surprise that Dumbledore ranked the highest when it came to cooperation, sympathy and cautiousness, but then it starts to get interesting. As I'm sure fellow fans will agree, movie Dumbledore got waaaaay less chill than book Dumbledore. Misra himself said he was curious to see if Watson thought Dumbledore changed in the movies, but actually it didn't:

"This isn't reflected in the data. The reason: Most of those changes aren't in his language — it's in the actors' choices."

What a perfect way to sum it all up.

What do you think about Watson's findings? And who do you think he should analyze next?


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