AI measures how much time politicians spend on their phones during debates

An AI system is being used to measure how much time politicians spend on their phones during debates and other televised government meetings …

TNW reports.

Dries Depoorter is using AI to monitor YouTube videos of Flemish government meetings. When the stream starts, his software uses machine learning to find phones in the footage, and facial recognition to identify politicians using the devices.

Videos of the distracted lawmakers are then posted to the Twitter and Instagram accounts of the project, for a bit of good old public shaming.

As the piece notes, the system doesn’t know how the phones are being used, so the politicians could be doing anything from taking notes on the meeting through checking work-related emails to scrolling down their Facebook feed.

As Depoorter is an artist and developer with a particular focus on privacy, TNW‘s Thomas Macaulay says that the true aim of the project is likely to draw attention to the risks of misusing AI for overly intrusive surveillance.

This project gives me the creeps — and I suspect that’s the whole point […]

That could be how “the Flemish Scrollers” makes its most powerful impact: raising awareness of AI surveillance creep — and the need to curb it. When the lawmakers become the targets, they may be more eager to regulate the weapons.