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Mark Zuckerberg wants to use artificial intelligence to ban ‘hate speech,’ what could go wrong?

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told members of the US Senate and the world watching on Tuesday that he wants to use artificial intelligence to control and eliminate ‘hate speech’ on the social media site. From the hearing:

“We’re not there yet, it will take another 5 to 10 years for AI to be ready to police hate speech and be able to reliably distinguish it from legitimate political expression,” he said.

“Some problems lend themselves more easily to AI solutions than others,” Zuckerberg said during his Senate testimony. “So, hate speech is one of the hardest, because, determining if something is hate speech is very linguistically nuanced. You need to understand what is a slur and what–whether something is hateful, not just in English, but the majority of people on Facebook use it in languages that are different across the world.”

“Contrast that, for example, with an area like finding terrorist propaganda which we’ve actually been very successful at deploying AI tools on already,” he continued. “Today, as we sit here 99 percent of the ISIS and Al Qaeda content that we take down on Facebook, our AI systems flag before any human sees it.”

Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a combined Senate Judiciary and Commerce committee. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“So, that’s a success in terms of rolling out AI tools that can proactively police and enforce safety across the community. Hate speech, I’m optimistic that over a five to ten-year period we will have AI tools that can get into some of the nuances, the linguistic nuances of different types of content to be more accurate in flagging things for our systems, but today we’re just not there on that.”

“So, a lot of this is still reactive, people flag it to us,” Zuckerberg stated. “We have people look at it. We have policies to try to make it as not subjective as possible, but until we get it more automated, there is a higher error rate than I’m happy with.”


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