Community Perspective: AI-based dashboards shedding light on Donald Trump’s misbehaviors

A contributed perspectives piece by Mike Mitri

We live in a highly polarized political climate, where misinformation runs rampant on social media, in political discourse, and in some segments of the news media. The power of information technology, including artificial intelligence, is all too often used to deceive and exploit, rather than inform and enlighten. Can AI be applied for assisting citizens to make wiser decisions, rather than manipulating them into making knee-jerk reactions? 

In an attempt to answer this question affirmatively, I invite you to visit the followingpublicly accessible dashboards of official government documents: the Mueller report, the Trump-Ukraine impeachment report, the January 6 report, and three of Trump’s current indictments.  These dashboards were created using a software application called Story Analyzer. Story Analyzer uses natural language processing and data visualization technology for enabling users to navigate and understand complex narrative text. 

To see a demo of the January 6 dashboard, check out this video. You’ll see that the dashboards give a big picture view of these stories, and enable users to drill down for specifics about the people, organizations, places, times, interactions, and key themes from the narratives.

These reports are all official government documents, crafted by congressional committees, by legal professionals from the U.S. Department of Justice, and from state government attorneys. They total over 1500 pages, and as such are much too voluminous and complex for the average reader to digest without assistance. And yet, given the incredibly high stakes of the upcoming presidential election, the cautionary tales these reports tell are vital for giving citizens actionable intelligence to guide their civic choices. Because of the Supreme Court’s recent decision to hear Trump’s claim of immunity, and therefore significantly delay his trials, I believe these dashboards are even more newsworthy than they were last month. 

James Madison University’s mission statement says the following: “We are a community committed to preparing students to be educated and enlightened citizens who lead productive and meaningful lives.” As a recently retired JMU faculty member, this credo has always been important to me. I hope the above links can assist in the endeavor of enhancing enlightened citizenship.

Mike Mitri is an emeritus professor at James Madison University, where he taught computer information systems from 2001 through 2023. He is the developer of Story Analyzer, and the owner of  Story Analyzer, LLC in Harrisonburg.

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