The Observatory for Economic and Societal Technological Impacts of Artificial Intelligence (OTESIA) is launching four projects around AI today. The second of this list focuses on the prevention of cyber-harassment, and more specifically how effectively to counter it?
In Europe, more than a third of young people witness hate speech on the internet. And of these, no less than 6% of young people are directly affected by cyber-harassment. A figure that continues to increase in recent years, as social networks have become democratized and established as important places of exchange. In order to combat this hatred remotely, a software project focused on its prevention via AI (Artificial Intelligence) is launched by OTESIA. Led by Serena Villata and Elena Cabrio (team I3S / Inria) and Catherine Blaya (University Côte d’Azur – CAPEF-INSPE), this software is responsible for detecting hate messages based on a natural language analysis. But it’s not just a simple keyword tracking, it’s also an understanding of the argumentative structure of the message as a whole. The software notices what form of hatred it is (racist, xenophobic, against a religion), and then seeks to understand the nature of the religion (humor, allusion, implicit, context). The aim is to recognize real hate speech, not mere messages with insults.
Tools for victims
Preventing hate messages is not the only goal of OTESIA’s software. Providing counter-measures for victims of cyber-harassment is also provided for by this project. It will provide potential answers against the harasser’s comments, allowing the harassed person to defend themselves and learn to do so alone. To produce these defences, interventions will take place between September 2020 and January 2021 in six secondary schools (colleges and high schools). Several role-playing games in the context of harassment will take place in order to analyze the words made and the responses of the students. All this data will be processed to make the software more accurate and functional. The first results of the latter will be shown in June 2021.