EVMs at time of AI

At a time of AI and the Internet of Things powered by 5G network can we still hold that EVMs are stand-alone machines that are not hackable? The cat appears to out of bag not just because of the election results of three Hindi heartland states have raised questions about safety of EVMs but also because elections commission itself says that it is tracking all its machines through a software raising questions about the safety of the EVMs. This is why it is important to raise the issue of EVMs again because if EVM are trackable through a software, they are part of Internet of Things and are now vulnerable to hacking .

The EVMs are just the punching bags the losing opposition. AI is already used to analyse public sentiments and forecast electoral behaviour of our people hence we cannot simply think that EVMs are safe in an age of AI. When EVMs were first introduced, may be the then chips and the mother boards were stand alone, but today i
The chips and the components of the mother board are said to be multitasking. Several of them are secretly passing on our intimate information which is assembled and analysed and put into use by the Big Data tycoons. Therefore, we have the challenge to recast the safety of the EVMs again.

The digital democracy or digital electoral process does not appear to be safe at a time of AI and Internet of Things. Both these disruptive technologies of the twenty first century are threatening our democracy. These technologies are today integrated and we have AIoT . Will the EVMs become easy meat to these intelligent machines? Even if we grant that up to this point our EVMs were unhackable. Can we still hold that they will be safe with exponentially growing AI in the coming days? Will it not amount to idiotism to trust these machines in an age of 5G and rapidly growing AI? How can we protect their vulnerabilities and not be decoded and preyed upon by highly potent AI?

AI and Internet of Things, being disruptive technologies are going to disrupt our democracy. This is why it may be wise to return to the ballot paper as the Big tech countries have already done. India that is aspiring to be a Visv Guru cannot lag behind. Being the mother of the biggest democracy, our Government and the election commission has the duty as well as responsibility to conduct free and fair elections. Because there is opacity that is being introduced by EVMs in the election process , it is an imperative arising out of democracy itself, that gives right to know beyond any shadow of doubt what happens to one’s vote after one casts the same.

The right to know whether our vote reaches the intended destination is fundamental to the entire voting process. It is more basic than the efficiency of the speed of counting provided by the EVMs. Such efficiency can be achieved to some degree under the active supervision of the delegates of the candidates or by candidates themselves through machines like those that count cash . Our quest for speedy results cannot put our entire voting process in danger. In an age of AI, therefore, we cannot lose this simple intelligence and allow vested interest to hijack our democracy.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao