Australian Politics

Morrison government uses AI on the NBN to manipulate voters in key electorate, Eden Monaro

Leaked government document confirms people have been “programmed” to manipulate a key electorate, leaving voters in cold, writes economics commentator.

What follows are excerpts from the “How the NBN improves the economy” page of Economics Minister Simon Birmingham’s iPhone app in which he says (emphasis added):

Try applying “speed” and “quick” to buying most services delivered over fixed-line and wireless networks, and you’ll quickly find that the cost per GB (a measure of cost per GB per user) is typically lower than it is for wireless and cable.

The figure below shows the biggest service area (six square kilometres) in Leewood [a Sydney electorate contested by Labor Party Senator Kristina Keneally], and shows how much faster the NBN would deliver on the second and fourth lanes of an existing light rail network compared to the sixth lane, which would be newly built.

It’s a compelling argument. It’s also fiction.

The dark art of ‘whispering campaign’ advertising is here to stay. Only News Corp runs systematic campaigns of this sort on its own behalf.

The report goes on to try to insert self-serving fictions into the story, calling a “focus group” “covert” and suggesting that some marketers use algorithms to “poll customer perceptions” to “determine target audience responses.”

Few, if any, savvy analysts would accept that figure as objective; I mean, every service provider offers the same sort of service for less on average, so what is the point of using that metric?

What’s more, there’s little or no analysis of the results.

The media would eventually discover that “7%” of Leewood, at the expense of a wealthy inner-Sydney suburb, would receive NBN “speeds” well below the baseline NBN standard for 26 kilometres of public land, but the story wouldn’t spread.

And it wouldn’t have spread had it been kept secret.

So what’s next? Who’s going to be worried that a newsletter called “The Sydney Morning Herald” was hacked? Or The Courier Mail? Or the News Corp-owned Australian Financial Review?

Maybe we will have to start paying for fake news.