Microsoft’s Bing technology has called Iowa for Hillary Clinton, a result that has not gone unnoticed amongst Bernie Sanders supporters given that an app created by Microsoft will help tally the vote during tonight’s caucus.
Using, “data from polls, prediction markets, and anonymized and aggregated search-engine queries to predict its results,” Microsoft forecasts that Hillary will win three out of the first four Democratic primaries, taking Iowa, South Carolina and Nevada, with Sanders taking New Hampshire.
Although the technology isn’t perfect, Microsoft correctly predicted the outcome of the 2015 Academy Awards, the ‘No’ vote for Scottish independence, and the outcome of more than 95 percent of the 2014 U.S. midterm elections.
That track record is causing consternation amongst some Bernie Sanders supporters, who have pointed out a potential conflict of interest given that precinct officials will be using an app created by Microsoft to report caucus results.
Last week, Pete D’Alessandro, who is running Sanders’ Iowa campaign, questioned the impartiality of the app, telling MSNBC, “You’d have to ask yourself why they’d want to give something like that away for free.”
Some fear that hackers could penetrate the cloud network on which the app runs in order to skew the vote.
“Closed source technologies from companies like Microsoft could, in theory, contain backdoors or vulnerabilities that hackers and evildoers could exploit. Even worse, Microsoft or its employees could purposely alter voting software to influence outcomes,” writes Brian Fagioli.
Both the Sanders and Clinton campaigns have built independent reporting systems based on the Microsoft app.
Microsoft has numerous ties to the Clintons, the most notable being Mark Penn, once described as Hillary’s “pollster, chief strategist and message guru all wrapped into one.”
Up until June last year, Penn was also Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer at Microsoft Corporation. In 2014, Penn created an ad campaign that Time’s Laura Stampler speculated was a, “slick, subliminal and one-hundred percent free endorsement of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.”