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This AI is trolling distracted politicians and I’m 100% here for it

Can we get this in the US, please?

ai catching politicians on phone
Image: Twitter / Dries Depoorter

Ever wonder how much attention your local politicians are paying when they’re supposed to be focusing on serving their constituents?

Yeah, me too, but thanks to AI, video-streamed parliament sessions, and a Belgian digital artist, now we know (Okay, for the Flemish province of Belgium, but it’s probably easy to scale this tool out to any government proceedings).

If you want to follow along, “The Flemish Scrollers,” as Dries Depoorter calls his art installation, can be found on Twitter under @FlemishScroller or Instagram under @TheFlemishScrollers. Every time the software notices a distracted politician checking their social media (or possibly playing Flappy Bird), the system posts a short clip to the social media accounts.

In the real-time accountability for their elected representatives, the clips also tag the accused reps with their social handles and reminds them to “pls stay focused.”

Now, sure, there are many legit reasons why politicians would need to check their phones during a long meeting. But, without seeing the screen’s content, we can’t know if they’re playing a game or replying to some urgent email from a constituent.

When parliament isn’t in session, the AI is trained by watching old broadcasts of politicians to improve its detection rate. Will old clips of distracted lawmaking make it to social media? It’s certainly neat to see AI watching the people in charge instead of us lowly workers for a change.

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