Computer’s history and impact

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Computers and election

Computers play important role in the modern life, they are used for multiple purposes and help people to process digital data, along with simplification of processes, which are hard for people to fulfill. To start description of computers’ role in the elections it is essential to give good definition to computers (Grimm, Rüdiger).

Computer is a device that uses information (that is mostly provided in form of the digitalized data) and processes this information for particular purpose that is specified by the user or illustrated in the computer program that gives command to the central processing unit. Complex computers have strong storage systems and multicore processing units, which can allow simultaneous processing of large amounts of data(Grimm, Rüdiger). Such computers are used in data centers of modern companies. There are microprogramms, which are embedded into the processing units. They are called logic circuits. However, mostly, programs are loaded into storage by user.

Thus, computers can be efficient mean for improvement of the election process and to solve disputed moments, which require calculation of votes and further processing of data. Computers, as essential devices for elections, were first used in 1964. Five counties in US used them to power the elections(Grimm, Rüdiger). Since that time, presence of computers in the elections has rapidly grown. By 1988 almost half of counties in USA were using information systems to count popular vote. By 1992 over two-thirds of US voters were using computer-powered systems to cast ballots. Introduction of computers was not regulated and was unnoticed by most of people. However, election process requires additional attention from the security professionals, since there are many security threats, which can result in falsification of election results.

Election process involves drawing of date boundaries, initiatives and candidates should be filled and placed on the special ballots, all voters must be registered, campaign information monitored, information about voting supplied(Grimm, Rüdiger). There are even more procedures, which should be taken to make election successful and to reach some results. Computer is important part of all these processes. Computers are used to improve the accuracy of calculations and to avoid fraud activities.

However, it is important to underline that there are many computers, which are used in the process of elections. The most commonly used system is punch card system. This system allows voter punching holes in the ballot to indicate a choice. This choice is processed by the computer system(Grimm, Rüdiger). Other systems allow voter to fill boxes in standard test, in addition, there are computer systems, which are used to tabulate manual entries from other systems. However, the most known systems allow voter to enter votes without filling physical ballot(Caarls, Susanne). Such systems are the most comfortable for user and provides better framework for work. Computer systems are associated with specific problems, which are caused by unreliable applications, applications with low usability, confusing ballots and overreliance on IT experts, since election should be supervised and carried out by election officials.

Introduction of information, communication technologies into electoral process provides considerable opportunities and weaknesses. Both of these factors are known by election officials and studied to avoid security risks and fraud activities. However, despite negative factors, most EMBs use new technologies to improve the electoral process(Caarls, Susanne). Mostly, they are used, as it was mentioned above as office automation tools, data processing tools, database management systems and geographic information systems. All these systems are useful in the process of election and provide substantial benefits.

Important feature of the modern information systems in the election is that they develop as well as other directions. It means that IT powered election systems evolve and adapt to the modern environment to face the threats and to offer even higher level of transparency and accuracy(Caarls, Susanne). Most systems simplify recording or counting votes cast. Other systems are used to check voter eligibility.  In addition, there are countries, which experiment with Internet voting, as alternative to the actual voting that helps to increase overall level of participation in votes(Caarls, Susanne). As it was emphasized above, all these measures are aimed on the transparency and increasing of the credibility of election process.

It is predicted that modern technologies will introduce more measures to simplify and make possible further development in the sphere of electronic voting. This area of development in the IT powered elections is perspective sphere, since it provides more opportunities for various social groups to participate in elections(Fair, Ray C). In addition, process of collection votes and their further processing will be much easier. Due to the fact that modern technologies add more technology oriented features, future elections will be carried in different way.

Firstly, election process will be carried out through the internet, with advances in the documenting people’s identities and introduction of advanced IDs, internet voting will be much easier(Fair, Ray C). Voting process will be regulated by AI powered system that can distinguish people, who are eligible voting and those who are not. Modern elections are complicated and thus cannot be controlled effectively. In addition, large amount of information cannot be processed thoroughly, while future processing centers will process all votes and will align them with the particular candidate for presidency or some other post(Fair, Ray C). Calculation and check of votes will be carried out by the special computer that will be supervised by authorized election officials. These officials will prevent unauthorized access to the votes and manipulation with information, since insider threat is the most important considering the information technologies and systems based on them. It is good to underline the fact human factor and falsifications will be practically neutralized by the use of the information systems, which will be supervised by special persons, who will have restricted access to information(Fair, Ray C). Most parts of the information will be processed by AI powered system without involvement of people.

Modern world shows the necessity in the application of the election technologies to avoid falsification of votes and additional misconducts, which should be solved due to the human factor(Leondes, Cornelius T). Conduct of elections requires strict following of specific rules and information should be preserved from the unauthorized access, in addition, election officials should be dedicated to honest elections. Otherwise, using money resources and bribery, certain candidates can manipulate the officials to gain advantage during the elections. Further integration of technologies will help to avoid such misconducts and violation of election rules. The most important factor in the election is transparency, and it can be achieved through the use of the transparent systems, which are designed to show all information regarding the votes and percentage of votes for the specific candidate(Leondes, Cornelius T).

Computerized elections are not so developed in the USA and need some time to be developed to reach the level when usual elections will be banned due to the high risk of falsification and low transparency. However, it needs creating of infrastructure and designing of the computer systems, which will be able to process such information and refer it to specific candidates.

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In addition, elections are associated with high risks. Elections should be conducted properly. It is not enough to use IT in the elections to ensure keeping rules and constitution. Elections should be open to public scrutiny, errors are unacceptable. Initial integration of technology requires testing and some misconducts, which can be timely solved. But it works in other spheres, while in elections sphere it will provide negative consequences and loss of trust to the computerized elections. Conditions, which are relevant to the elections, cannot be simulated to reproduce all challenges, which should be faced(Leondes, Cornelius T). Thus, integration of IT can be costly for the government. In addition, cost reducing requires gradual introduction of technology that is not possible for election sphere. System should be capable of processing information just after integration and it should be presented as working systems(Leondes, Cornelius T). Using the election systems powered by IT entire elections can be jeopardized due to the errors in processing or improper storage of information.

There is a good option to introduce new technology is to upgrade existing technology and gradually reach the designed level. Otherwise, attempts to integrate information technologies may lead to the serious misconducts. However, generally, application of the information systems is promising venture that can help to improve the process of elections, however, it should be made gradually with multilateral improvement of the existing system(Leondes, Cornelius T). From the point of view of the cost-effectiveness of such development, there can be negative moments, since working on the improvement of the electoral functions may require substantial financing from the government. Not only initial costs for establishing a new system should be considered. Costs for setting up a system, advertising and promotion of such method should be considered, since they can overweigh the potential benefits of use of such technologies, when such technologies are not ready for such activities(Kobti, Ziad and Dan Wu).

Another important moment in establishing such technologies is sustainability. In the long term, there is no guarantee that such systems will work for several elections. Thus, system should be developed to face the needs of the new elections, thus, such technologies may become obsolete and unusable(Kobti, Ziad and Dan Wu). To ensure their proper work government will be forced to invest additional funds into their development that may prove to be expensive and unsustainable.

AI and its development

Alan Turing is a father of the concept of computer that can think. People are unaware what matters to think, however, true AI according to Alan Turing will be able to think and to take own decisions. In 1950, that was marked as dawn of computing, Turing has asked a question: “Can computer think?” (Kobti, Ziad and Dan Wu). This question was unusual for people, since computers were made for some general purposes and were not mentioned to think or take any decisions. Nowadays, there are computers, which have special patterns of taking decisions to optimize the process of processing of information, however, computers, which were relevant to the time of Turing were not capable of such activities. Thus, many people consider Turing as a man ahead of his time. However idea of the thinking computer lives up to here. This idea has strong influence on the concept of AI. However, this idea has caused a schism among practitioners of this idea.

Nowadays AI is considered as computer device that can imitate humans’ ability to think, however, in fact development of the thinking computer is associated with the fact that brain functions are still unknown(Kobti, Ziad and Dan Wu). Humans’ brain is not studied enough to provide framework for creating a computer that will be able to think just like humans. However, there are many advances in the AI, which think in different way and can play games or recognize speech. These computers are close to the concept of the AI, however, they will never think like humans do(Kobti, Ziad and Dan Wu).

First discovery in the AI is made by Arthur Samuel. He managed to create an application that can play checkers. Due to the fact that amount of possible outcomes in this game is relatively low, computer was capable of calculating all possible outcomes to win the game(Grimm, Rüdiger). Such advancement was considered as learning machine that can learn to play the game and to win the human opponent. However, using two computers as players resulted in tie. Next advancement in the AI was made by the group of scientists such as Allen Newell, Cliff Shaw, Herbert A. Simon. These scientists have managed to develop a program that could imitate the problem solving of human-being(Grimm, Rüdiger). This program was capable of proving theorems and drawing logical connections between the cause and effect. This application is widely considered as the first AI application. Next work by the same scientist improved the problem-solving processes of the program and made new advancement in the AI. This application was called GPS or General Problem Solver(Grimm, Rüdiger). This application was capable of more complicated problem-solving than the predecessor. Next advancement was designed to improve the working with AI and its programming. For these purposes, LISP language was designed. It helped to create human-like units to speed up the processing speed. In addition, it was attempt to imitate the human-being neurons, which serve as processing units in the brain.

Further discoveries were aimed on the improvement of the existing solutions, which reached the level of the modern computers, which can take specific decisions based on the conditions(Fair, Ray C). Furthermore, there are robots, which help people to work in the hazardous conditions or to automate the production and to free people from routine tasks.

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There are few the most important examples of such devices. Alacrity is a system that is designed for strategic and managerial advisory. Such system was based on over 3000 rules about markets, their evolution and development(Chaum, David). This, device was aimed on the improvement of the decision-making and taking routine decisions, which require processing of little amounts of information. Furthermore, this system was designed mainly for advisory, so based on the calculations and processing of information this system was able to advice some particular direction of development(Chaum, David). Only 30% of all advices were truly effective and could lead to the positive consequences. Such amount of positive advices can be evidence of the successful development in the sphere of AI. Artificial intelligence should serve the people with the activities, which cannot be carried out by humans with such speed and strategic advisory system is the first actual working system that helped people with decision making.

While last system was commercial and found its application in business sphere there are systems, which are used for dynamic analysis and logistics, mainly, for military use. One of such systems is DART(Caarls, Susanne). This artificial intelligence program is the first application that was created to speed up and optimize transportation of essential supplies to personnel and to solve multiple logistical problems, which can arise during the military actions. This application saved many lives, since it was designed to transport the personnel and to react on the requests for supplies. Such systems work faster than people and can establish the most effective path to the location of soldiers, which require support.

All above mentioned advances were important for development of the AI due to the fact that they helped to establish the direction of the development of such systems(Caarls, Susanne). According to the Turing’s work, computers should think like humans and should indistinguishable from humans. However, modern advances in the AI has proven the fact that computers should think much better than human in the spheres, which are unavailable for human. Computers can process large amounts of information to make decisions. Such decisions should be effective, since they are based on the large amount of data and people physically cannot process all this information and to draw some conclusion towards the strategic decision. Thus, AI systems are used for improvement of the decision-making in the companies(Caarls, Susanne). AI is used to improve the search engines in the internet, since they know what people are searching and what common patterns they use to find something relevant to their search request. Thus, search engines show only the most relevant information to the search request. Computers are designed for improvement of the thinking abilities of people and to serve them as the processors of the data. People can make decisions, which do not require data processing without assistance of the computers. However, there are decisions and actions, which can be carried out only by computers(Caarls, Susanne).

Actual example of the interaction with AI in the modern world is work with the search engine. As it was mentioned above, most internet search providers understand that users should get only relevant result. Thus, data centers process the information about the last requests and reveal the pattern or sites, which have the highest amount of visitors. Such sites are considered to be the most relevant results and they are shown as the result of the search. In addition, to avoid a fraud activities and deceiving of the search engines there are special AI programs, which scan the most popular sites to check whether they try to deceive the search engine or not. In case of the positive result of the check, site become blocked and removed from the search results for some particular request. It makes the interaction with search sites easier and more effective. Another application of the AI is concept of the smart-house. Main computer receives the readings from multiple devices and makes decisions towards the controlling of internal conditions, such as light, temperature and humidity conditions. All these factors are essential for people and users can control them through the use of such intellectual devices.

Thus, AI has considerable impact on the life of the modern people. It enhances the processes, which are complicated due to the development of technology. Large amount of data that should be processed provides the challenges for modern people, thus, they should invest in the systems, which can make processing of such data easier for people. In addition, there are devices, which can help with decision-making and with comfort living. All these devices have AI as the foundation for their work. However, modern computers cannot think like humans, they can imitate the decision-making based on the multiple factors. There are advancements in making computers more natural to improve the interaction between the computer and people.

Apart from the previous paragraph, future computers will have the voice commands, which will not require work with input devices. Our voice and speech recognition systems powered with strong microphone will serve as the one and the main input system. Decision-making process will be improved in all facets of life. Medical workers will have the computer that will diagnose diseases and prescribe the most effective treatment. Businesses will be guided by the strong computers and the competitive advantage will be based on the quality of these decisions and their possible outcome.

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  5. Kobti, Ziad and Dan Wu. Advances In Artificial Intelligence. 1st ed., Berlin, Springer, 2007,.
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  8. Luger, George F. and Chayan Chakrabarti. “From Alan Turing To Modern AI: Practical Solutions And An Implicit Epistemic Stance”. AI & Soc, 2016, Springer Science + Business Media.
  9. Turing, Alan Mathison et al. The Legacy Of Alan Turing. 1st ed., Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1996,.
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