Premiering October 17, 2020, TVO Original 'Margin of Error' is a Compelling Story of How Artificial Intelligence is Changing the Science of Polling and Prediction

By TVO News - Published on Sep 29, 2020
This insightful documentary will debut Oct 17 as part of the TVO 50th Anniversary Telethon.

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Open Door Co. and TVO are thrilled to announce the world broadcast and online premiere of TVO Original Margin of Error, Saturday October 17, 2020 at 9 pm ET on TVO and tvo.org. This insightful documentary will debut as part of a celebrational TVO 50th Anniversary Telethon

Directed by veteran filmmaker, Peter Gombos, and produced by Tom Powers (Political Blind Date), TVO Original Margin of Error investigates a new artificial intelligence or “AI” method that is shaking up the landscape of traditional political polling. For decades, polls relied on phone calls and surveys as the dominant way to predict elections, but recent high-profile failures have exposed doubts about polling’s methods and its reliability. Can AI overcome those weaknesses and more accurately forecast public opinion?  With AI still in its infancy, TVO Original Margin of Error explores compelling examples of how a Canadian technology start-up is leading the way in predicting outcomes for complicated and important world events.  What are the implications and what do they mean for society?

“You have to wonder how honest people are answering opinion polls, especially when it comes to politics. What do they really think when they don’t have to fess up to a stranger? That’s where Artificial Intelligence (AI) could indeed have an edge”, says Jane Jankovic, TVO’s executive producer of documentaries.  “As this TVO Original documentary shows, AI doesn’t have to ask you anything. It can get everything it needs to predict your vote by analyzing information and data publicly available through the internet. The answers are already out there.” 

"As we approach perhaps the most consequential of elections, Margin of Error takes a deep dive into the promise and dangers of using AI in predicting elections. With high profile "misses" like the Brexit and Trump elections, traditional polling faces a credibility gap. The timing for this film could not be better," said Open Door’s Executive Producer, Tom Powers.

With the 2019 Canadian federal election as its backdrop, TVO Original Margin of Error puts “Polly,” the algorithm of a small Ottawa-based start-up, Advanced Symbolics, to the test. Can this AI draw on vast amounts of social media data to predict the vote in this election more accurately than the pollsters? What do the answers mean for the future of polling and politics?

TVO Original Margin of Error will broadcast on TVO October 17, 2020, at 9 pm ET. It will then be available to stream anytime across Canada on tvo.org and the TVO Youtube Channel; and rebroadcast on TVO October 18, 2020 at 10:30 pm ET and October 20, 2020 at 10 pm ET.

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