A Belgian has created AI that detects when politicians are slacking off on the job and publicly shames them. Outstanding.



You’d think that politicians – who work for us, dag nabbit – would be wise to do their jobs when they’re supposed to be. But it continually seems to reach the public’s consciousness that they’re doing anything but. Now some technology has evolved designed to name and shame those who are playing Solitaire or Fruit Ninja when they should be maintaining parliamentary decorum.

As reported by iflscience.com, digital artist Dries Depoorter has created an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm that trawls through footage of politicians engaged in debates, then publicly shames anyone who gets distracted by their phone while parliament is in session.

“All meetings of the Flemish government in Belgium are streamed on YouTube. The Flemish artist used AI software to go through the footage, scanning for any smartphones in view. When it detects phone use, it uses facial recognition to figure out which politician is distracted from the meeting and clips the video for social media. It then publishes the clip to Twitter and Instagram, and includes the perpetrator’s social media handles, while telling them to stay focused.”



Good call, we say. One presumes that while on their phones they’re not doing the noble work of efficient government, up to some infantile distractions. The late US Senator John McCain was spotted playing poker on his phone during the Senate committee on foreign relations discussing the potential use of force against the Assad regime in Syria. You know, important stuff.

Julia Banks wrote in her recent memoir that treasurer Josh Frydenburg was texting Sky News while she was taking steps to leave the party – and the parliament – and she knew this because the missives he was firing were making their way onto the TV screen in real time. Classy move, Josh.

For more localised instances of democracy in action (actually, democracy inaction), Clive Palmer once was famously photographed snoozing on the public’s dime. No smartphone AI was needed to catch out the one-term member for Fairfax getting a few Zs after what one could only presume was a hearty lunch of roasted meats and rich, creamy sauces, plus a flagon or two of a hearty Barossa red. Palmer took the public shaming in his stride, telling journalists after his publicly-funded beauty sleep that then-PM Abbott was to blame for what would appear to be the most unfortunate, spontaneously-acquired bout of narcolepsy ever recorded.

“Tony Abbott sent me to sleep during question time avoiding questions about his cruel & heartless budget,” the noted life-sized plastic dinosaur enthusiast later tweeted.

But back to the AI, which seems more intent on ensuring the machinations of government have the full attention of its component parts. To make matters more interesting still, Depoorter has created a Twitter account for the project that automatically tags those politicians flagged for being distracted. Scrolling politicians are also called out on the project’s Instagram account. Having said that, Depoorter’s underlying use of the technology says a lot about its potential use for surveillance of the public.

Big Brother is watching you, and will deduct your pocket money if you’re looking at TikTok while you should be keeping the wheels of democracy turning.




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