March 2, 2017
“What if technology could help improve conversations online?”
That’s the lowkey Orwellian message that greets visitors to the website of Perspective, Google’s new AI system for detecting (and potentially deleting, hiding, or burying) “toxic” comments on the web.
Perspective is still in early days of development, but in the future, you may have to adjust your speech in order to satisfy the lofty standards of Google. Otherwise, the company’s faceless AI might just have to “improve” you. Where’s Sarah Connor when you need her?
The good news is that, for now at least, Perspective is about as effective as C-3PO with a lisp. Software engineer and columnist David Auerbach has found the program woefully inept at sorting “toxic” comments from ordinary ones. Because the AI currently focuses on words rather than meanings, inoffensive comments like, “Rape is a horrible crime,” or, “few Muslims are a terrorist threat,” were assigned “toxicity” ratings of over 75 percent.
Of course, even if Perspective could successfully sort “toxic” comments from innocuous ones, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to be deleted or buried. According to the project’s homepage, the system performs no function other than detection.
This article was posted: Thursday, March 2, 2017 at 7:13 am