A new algorithm being developed to tackle gender-based online abuse could help “drive positive social and cultural change”.
Both the Scottish and UK governments have welcomed the work of researchers at the National Robotarium, which involves Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh.
Researchers there are working on advanced “machine learning” algorithms that could significantly improve the detection of online abuse and help with intervention and prevention.
The project, which has received £1 million in funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), is developing high-tech AI tools that leverage a wide range of viewpoints, perspectives and experiences to improve online abuse detection .
In addition, work will include the development of new educational material to help young people understand, recognize and respond more confidently to online gender-based violence.
Lead investigator and professor of conversational AI at the National Robotarium, Verena Rieser, said the project will “rethink what we need to do to ‘uncover’ online abuse, as well as ‘how best to support victims and the role of education as a tool can play for prevention”.
The Heriot-Watt University professor added: “The project’s findings will help create online spaces that are equally safe regardless of an individual’s gender, race or background, and provide more effective and transparent moderation tools that give users more Give control over their online experiences. ”
Associate researcher and lecturer for computer science education at the National Robotarium, Dr. Fiona McNeill said that since online abuse could be a “big problem for children and young people” as well as adults, the project will “work with young people to understand their experiences of online abuse, the language they use, and the way young victims need to be supported”.
She said: “Through this interactive work, we will create educational materials that will help young people to understand and recognize gender-based violence online, gain confidence to respond to it, either as a victim or a bystander, and to recognize if they They are perpetrators.”
Welcoming the research findings, Scottish Office Minister Iain Stewart said: “Hate speech and harassment is just as unacceptable online as it is offline.
“For too long online platforms have facilitated the most heinous forms of targeted abuse, with almost no consequences for the perpetrators and minimal support and protection for victims.
“I am confident that this research into new AI algorithms will provide a valuable tool to fight back and create safer online environments.”
Scottish Business Secretary Kate Forbes said: “Everyone should feel equally safe and respected whether online or offline.”
She added: “As a key component of the City Region Deal, the team behind the National Robotarium is working to combat online abuse by using artificial intelligence to make our society more inclusive.
“This work will drive positive social and cultural change, with the potential to have an impact well beyond Edinburgh and South East Scotland.”