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AI-Based Bot Detects Politicians Distracted by Phone, Posts Photo on Twitter and Asks Them to Focus

We have often seen politicians busy staring at their phones or tablets even when an important debate or a discussion over a proposed law is underway. The issue is, of course, not confined to any specific country’s political representatives. Interestingly, now there’s a software that keeps a check on politicians with such behaviour. The tool, called ‘The Flemish Scrollers,’ detects politicians in the Flemish province of Belgium when they get distracted and start using phones during proceedings, which are livestreamed. Not only does it detect them with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) but also posts results on Twitter. It even tags political representatives that it finds distracted due to phones and other gadgets.

How does it work?

Written in Python, the software uses machine learning (ML) to detect phones and facial recognition to identify distracted politicians. Every government meeting in Belgium are livestreamed on YouTube. Once the livestream starts, the software searches for phones and then the distracted politicians. The software then posts the video of such politicians on Twitter and tags them. 

The Twitter bio of The Flemish Scrollers (@FlemishScroller) explains simply, “Automatically tagging distracted Belgian politician when they use their phone on the daily livestreams. This with the help of AI.”

Here, for example, Peter Van Rompuy, a member of the Senate of Belgium, was seen scrolling through his phone. The software picked the footage, posted it on Twitter, tagged the politician and asked him to “focus.”

Another Belgian politician Bart Somers was using his phone while the parliamentary proceedings were underway. The software did its job again. 

On July 5, Dries Depoorter, who is also the creator of the software, tweeted about it and his idea seemed to have found acceptance among the people. 

Twitter user @viraljetani, for instance, even asked the creator to make it “open sources” so that it could be used across countries. 

Here are some more reactions:

User @rintoprie wanted a slightly more evolved version of this software.

And since the world is attending meetings over Zoom these days, user @flashman wondered if The Flemish Scrollers would soon make its way to our online meetings. 

The Flemish Scrollers was released on July 5.




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