There are things that most of us consider private, even secret, such as details about our lives we may not want the whole world to know for whatever reasons. Whether we’re talking about sexual orientation, religion, or political opinions, many of us would perhaps like to keep things private since these are topics that spark a lot of debate. And yet, there’s an AI out there that can figure out things about you even if you don’t want it to.
Unlike one AI that was unveiled a few months back which was supposedly able to tell whether you were gay or not, this one knows who you’re going to vote for. And it’s not even going to look at your Facebook page to do so, because we’re pretty sure that’s one network that already knows what your political affiliations are.
Researchers at Stanford made use of Google Street View and checked out the cars parked on the road in several neighborhoods. After feeding it some 50 million pictures, the AI was able to recognize pretty much any car’s make and model since the 1990s. The AI then combines the information with demographic statistics, like age, race, household income, education level, and more. It added a sprinkle of voting data to the mix, and voila! The AI knows whether the residents of a certain neighborhood vote left or right.
“Using easily obtainable visual data, we can learn so much about our communities, on par with some information that takes billions of dollars to obtain via census surveys,” states Fei-Fei Li, associate professor of computer science at Stanford.
The many advantages of this AI
This is, of course, a great alternative, with the simple mention that Google’s Street View footage is not always recently updated. That aside, one example of deductions the AI can make include a comparison between the number of sedans and pickup trucks in a neighborhood. It seems that the more sedans are in an area, the more liberal people there are. More pickups mean more conservative voters.
The researchers hope this will eventually be a way for authorities to run polls since door-to-door surveys are extremely expensive and cost hundreds of millions of dollars every year. There is also about a two-year lag between data collection and publication because it takes so long to input everything and create the proper statistics.
While complete replacement will likely never happen, the paper’s authors believe the AI can at least help supplement the data to keep it up to date.