In Belgium, an AI teases politicians who are too "distracted" by their cell phones

For once the idea of ​​a Big Brother makes me smile. What a title: "Politicians always on their mobile phones trolled in Belgium by artificial intelligence."

Gianluca Riccio

Sooner or later we all take a look at our mobile phone during boring meetings. Especially me! But if you are working with citizens' money it is better to prepare to receive an "ear tug" from an artificial intelligence.

This is what the digital artist Dries Deporter he made for his latest installation “The Flemish Scrollers”, literally “the Flemish scrollers”. Its software uses facial recognition to automatically call politicians in the Flemish province of Belgium who are distracted by their cell phones when parliament is in session. The project comes almost two years after the Flemish minister-president Jan Ham aroused public outrage by playing Angry Birds during a political discussion. (no, it's not Lercio.)

Watch out for your mobile, oh politician!

A merciless frame taken from one of the "roundups" carried out by the AI ​​to "find out" politicians who spend too much time looking at their mobile phones.

Launched Monday, the Depoorter system monitors daily livestreams of government meetings on YouTube and evaluate how long a representative has been looking at their phone compared to the current meeting. If the artificial intelligence detects a distracted person, it automatically identifies his face and sends him a public notification, posting the clip on Instagram (@TheFlemishScroller) and Twitter (@FlemishScroller).

Basically a social media pillory. The representative accused of spending too much time on his phone will be named and "shamed" on social media. The bot also politely asks you to “stay focused!”

It's not all. When there are no parliamentary sessions, the artificial intelligence he also begins to analyze archive footage. I wonder if this could lead to retroactive "alerts" for the imprudent parliamentarian caught looking at his cell phone.

Dries Depoorter, the author of the project “The Flemish Scrollers”

Four "distracted" people already caught

Less than 24 hours into “The Flemish Scrollers” project, the bot has already identified four cases of politicians being “distracted” by their phones, and has sparked discussion among the software's growing social media followers. As some of them have rightly pointed out, software's Jacobin tendency to jump to conclusions could be a problem. After all, we can't know what those politicians were doing on their cell phones. Right? There are times when useful and important work must be done urgently, even if it is on the same mobile phone that everyone uses to waste time. I don't know, maybe they were reading or sending important messages. No?

Let's do this: until artificial intelligence software starts reading the phones on the backs of legislators (this seems less feasible to me) we will just have to think that in any case this "Big Brother" will make us smile for once.

Who knows, maybe being watched by a bot can help politicians cut their games down Angry Birds .

To report research, discoveries and inventions, contact the editorial team!

Alberto Robiati and Gianluca Riccio guide readers through scenarios of the future: the opportunities, risks and possibilities we have to create a possible tomorrow.