July 13, 2021

Bot Tracks Phone-Happy Politicians

A Belgian digital artist had his local politicians turning red after he invented a piece of artificial intelligence (AI) that tracks the amount of time they spend on their cellphones instead of engaging in parliamentary debates.

Dries Depoorter created the AI software which scans through all the live Flemish parliament proceedings – which are uploaded to YouTube – and, upon detecting a smartphone, uses facial recognition to determine which politician is not doing their civic duty efficiently.

The footage is then uploaded to a Twitter and Instagram account, both with the handle “Flemish Scrollers”. The best part is that if the distracted public figure has an account on either social media platform, they are automatically tagged in the post and are told to “stay focused”.

The algorithm began running on Monday, 5 July; so far, it has singled out five feckless politicians who couldn’t help looking at their phones.

Through art, Depoorter likes to draw attention to concepts such as privacy, AI, surveillance and social media, then combines them with apps and other electronic media.

In October 2019, the country’s prime minister, Jan Jambon, was heavily criticised after he was photographed playing “Angry Birds” on his phone during a debate on government policy.

Image Credit: Source