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Britain Plans to Use AI to Block Isis Propaganda


According to the Home Office, in the second half of 2017, extremist propaganda popped up on about 150 web services that are not usually associated with such content.

The British government has contracted London-based company ASI Data Science to build an AI-powered tool able to spot and block Isis propaganda online.

The government suggested that— since the technology now exists— Internet platforms might  be forced by law to adopt the new anti-extremism feature in the future.

While larger companies such as Alphabet-owned Google (which controls YouTube) and Facebook are already dealing with the challenge of jihadist content on their own, smaller organisations might not be equally well-equipped to promptly tackle terrorist videos uploaded on their websites.

Britain’s Home Office says that in the second half of 2017, extremist propaganda popped up on about 150 web services that are not usually associated with such content.  That is why the government has invested £600,000 into the development of the new tool.

In an interview with the BBC, ASI Data Science explained that the computer vision software can detect 94 percent of Isis videos with an accuracy of 99.995 per cent. Once spotted, videos are not automatically removed but flagged up for review by a human decision-maker.

Videos deemed to be jihadists propaganda are circled back to the tool’s machine learning algorithm, thus perfecting  its accuracy.

ASI Data Science did not disclose how exactly the software identifies extremist videos, but it is understood that it focuses on a cluster of features typical of ISIS’s videos and online propaganda.

Speaking to WIRED UK, a researcher from the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation raised doubts on the tool’s efficaciousness, saying that all Isis and other terror groups would have to do is working out which elements of their videos (logos, flags, soundtrack) are likely to alert the software, and changing them to skirt the block.

ASI retorted that it would be hard to circumvent the system, and that the characteristics that the company singled out as the hallmarks of jihadist propaganda are “very difficult for Isis to change”.

Image via Wikimedia





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