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I watched the Democratic debates last week and was struck by three things: I'd likely rather watch paint dry; the application of technology to improve the experience was nonexistent; and I'd bet that if the Democrats don't up their game President Trump will have them to thank when he wins re-election. I'm generally frustrated about how little technology is used to improve the presentations made by technology companies, but in this case both the preservation of the U.S. and perhaps the survival of the world are tied to the next election.


Misguided
Posted by: Phoebert 2019-07-01 20:22:34 In reply to: Rob Enderle
The Mueller report tells us that social networks were key to the Russian involvement in the 2016 election. A specific finding was was that investigators found that Russian hackers compromised 29 computers at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and stole more than 70 gigabytes of files from the groupís shared file server. The report details how social media trolls on Facebook and other publishing platforms sought to shape public opinion. After congressional investigations into bias in social media platforms Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, stated that he was "not proud" of how his platform had been "weaponized and used to distract and divide people". The Justice Department warned that social media companies may be "intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas". In recent congressional hearings Google executives responded to revelations that high ranking executives are dedicated to preventing another "Trump event". In those hearings copious evidence of political bias by Google went unrefuted. A leaked internal Google memo proposed "we make machine-learning intentionally human-centered and intervene for fairness". The full context of the memo and associated memos makes it clear that AI is to be used shape public opinion. When we interact with large tech companies on the Internet it is our personal information that is their bottom line. In recent congressional testimony Senator Josh Hawley stated "When a big tech company says its product is free, consumers are the ones being sold".

In summary, multiple branches of our Government have determined that:
1) Democratic party computer systems holding highly sensitive data were hacked by the Russians prior to the 2016 election.
2) Social media platforms were "weaponized" to affect the outcome of the election.
3) Social media platforms are exhibiting clear political predilections, with the world's hegemonic search engine engaged in a high level conspiracy to prevent a Trump reelection.
4) AI is being utilized to promote the political aims of Google. There is evidence that such is the case with Facebook as well.
5) Large tech companies sell our personal data to the highest bidder, often political campaigns.

And yet this article suggests that we should have an app to obtain more information about candidates and their positions. I have been writing software applications for over 40 years. I would suggest that the opportunity for disinformation in such an app is even greater than is found on publishing sites like Facebook. Far more concerning is his suggestion that AI be utilized to determine the correlation between each candidates views and your own. I have been writing AI for years. I also spent years writing financial software, a subject matter far more familiar to the average reader. Most readers understand that a capable accountant fed a set of metrics can conclude anything that you pay them to conclude. It is just as true in AI, except more dangerous because most people outside this small community of AI development have no idea how easy it is to put your thumb on the scale. Just as with accounting I can make any AI system whether decision trees, vector machines, ensembles, convolutional neural networks, recurrent neural networks, deep Q networks, or any other system produce a desired output. Indeed I have had management suggest that I might do that to help our elected boss. Further the author suggests that AI be utilized to display real time to a national audience what that audience is querying in the debate. Again, anyone who thinks that AI is some objective, incorruptible brain doesn't know how AI works. It is suggested that "AI" could help the viewer narrow their focus to the two or three candidates with whom they are most closely aligned. That produces an echo chamber of the viewers biases, not a debate.

In the absence of an "app" the author states that he utilized Google to obtain additional information about political candidates during a live debate. No competing source of information is cited. Given the revelations about Google's political bias, surely well known to the author, it seems that no more needs to be said about that.

It is the author's position that candidates should rely more on tech for real time data during debates instead of their own memories. Extrapolating from this position, should we simply have computers run for high office? I would recommend to the reader Plato's account of why Socrates did not write.

I would not have spent my entire life developing technology to serve people if I didn't believe it to greatly benefit society. However, as tech becomes ever more powerful it becomes ever more important that those of us who develop it do so keenly mindful of the ethical consequences of our actions. Let us not substitute technology for the dearth of probity and competence so often found lacking in some of our public figures. That technology is likely to be produced by persons as lacking in said virtues as in some politicians.

Finally, it doesn't help the author's argument to reveal his political animus with lines such as "like some old guy who only watches Fox News and chases kids off his lawn" and reference to the president's "inability to tell the truth". Everywhere we look we are inundated with polarizing political propaganda. Can we please just discuss tech on "TechNewsWorld"?
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