Monday | April 12, 2021

AI Weekly: The election

In america, there was nothing else this week apart from the presidential election. Extra individuals voted on this election than in every other earlier U.S. presidential election — a complete of 143,518,226 votes and counting. As we shut out a protracted, hectic week, it seems all however a formality that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris would be the nation’s subsequent President and Vice President. In the meantime, Donald Trump rages on in a toothless effort to hold onto energy.

The outcomes of the election weren’t the resounding referendum towards white supremacy, misogyny, xenophobia, and bigotry that many had hoped for. However no less than the fears about how expertise might tip the scales of this election didn’t apparently come to move — many had been involved about quite a few threats from (or enabled by) expertise, from deepfakes to bots to hacking. It’s true that expertise actually contributed to, or no less than enabled, a few of these threats, and we might not know a lot concerning the extent of their results for a while, however it’s a reduction that it’s not been so onerous that it’s dominated conversations concerning the election outcomes. As a substitute, all eyes are on the gradual trickle of run-of-the-mill poll counting. We’ve heard little in the way in which of the controversy that might have emerged because of voting machine flaws; conversations have been extra targeted on issues like how Nebraska divides its electoral votes and the political predilections of impartial voters in Maricopa County than hacked voting systems.

Although expertise wasn’t the star of the present this week, it’s there below the floor, which truly jibes with its place in life and work extra typically. Even once you don’t see it, it’s there. Even if you happen to don’t notice that algorithms are making choices (or are contributing to individuals making choices) for you and about you, they’re. That is certainly not the final we’ll hear about AI-powered threats to elections, companies, and day-to-day life.

We’ve coated these tales on VentureBeat, and we’ll proceed to cowl them. As journalists, we all the time wish to comply with a very powerful, most compelling tales taking place on the earth. However as tech journalists, it may be difficult to search out our lane in these huge tales, from the pandemic to the election. Our small staff, although, has accomplished a commendable job doing simply that. And so, at a second that appears like a Second, I’m pausing to pointing again to the wonderful work that my colleagues have produced main as much as the election.

They wrote about how AI-powered polling predictions held up towards human pollsters, and the way a few of these AI predictors might acquire some extra consideration in future U.S. elections.

They wrote about how chatbots like IBM’s Watson Assistant will possible play an rising function in how individuals seize related info main as much as election day and past, though the assistants seemed to lag a bit on this cycle.

They wrote about how tech running amok might threaten the election, the hazards of crippling misinformation (sometimes from other countries), weaponized information leaks, and cyberattacks of various kinds.

They wrote about how bots are an efficient technique of rapidly spreading misinformation like conspiracy theories, disrupting on-line conversations, fomenting divisiveness, and more.

They wrote about how social media titans like Fb and Twitter proceed to battle with managing the outsized affect they’ve — how individuals largely distrust them, how their efforts at culling dangers on their platforms can be manipulated, and thus how removing a few Nazi symbols from marketing campaign pages isn’t transferring the needle a lot.

They wrote concerning the threat of deepfakes, a bogeyman that hung over the months and weeks preceding the election. They wrote about the way it caught the attention of the U.S. Congress way back to the summer season of 2019.

They wrote about Kamala Harris’ track record on AI policy and her history with Silicon Valley. They wrote about California’s Prop 25 and the way algorithms may impact the money bail system. They wrote about how U.S. tech coverage might shift if the Senate flips to the Democrats.

Behind the names on these bylines are our copy editors, Karen Spiegelman and Ramlah Yavar, who hardly ever get the credit score they deserve — for not simply catching errors, however for pushing writers to excellent their work, harden their arguments, and tighten up their headlines.

Because the election sidles towards a Biden/Harris victory, some persons are dancing and a few are simply quietly relieved. However now we have not reached a mountaintop. This election has served to do what the pandemic has accomplished: spotlight the numerous cracks, flaws, and endemic issues in our nation’s values and programs. Expertise underpins a lot of it; social media continues to be a scourge, the threats posed by bots and deepfakes will solely develop, algorithmic injustice will persist, and AI-powered tools may be used as weapons.

However we have reached a plateau of kinds — a flat spot within the midst of the lengthy climb the place we are able to sit down for a second, take a breath, and respect the work we’ve accomplished and the progress we’ve made. We’ll take the weekend, however we’ll get again to it on Monday. There’s extra to do.


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