Google's 'Perspective' Uses Machine Learning To Find Toxic Talk

Abuse, bullying, and unproductive, toxic discussions run rampant on the internet, but Google and Jigsaw have decided to use their know-how with machine learning to do something about it with a new tool called Perspective. The API for perspective is wide open, meaning that any site can pick it up and use it to help moderate their website's comments. The tool is fed comments that are tagged by humans as being toxic, hurtful, or harmful to conversation in order to learn what to look for. Perspective's findings can be corrected by humans, which is what allows it to learn more and more about what potentially toxic speech looks like over time.

Webmasters who decide to use Perspective can do so in a number of ways. Perspective can screen comments in real time as they're being typed, telling users if the message that they're about to send out could be deemed toxic. Webmasters can also have Perspective crack down hard and outright censor or delete comments that it deems negative, or they can have those comments handed over for human moderation. The first approach exposes Perspective to examples of good and bad discussion, but both methods are effective in teaching Perspective what to look for as far as toxic speech. Things like swearing, hate speech, name-calling, and unproductive discussion that could be potentially inflammatory without adding anything to the conversation can all set Perspective off at a basic level, but as it learns, it will better detect even subtle attacks against other users.

Perspective has been in early beta testing for some time now, with the New York Times serving as the primary guinea pig. As the tool expands and learns more, Google is hoping to add support for other languages, and the ability to figure out when a comment is off-topic or intentionally non-sequitur. With nearly half of internet users surveyed reporting being harassed online and one-third of surveyed users reporting that they're censoring themselves to avoid starting a fight online, Perspective is hitting the internet at an opportune time, and will likely learn quite a lot in a short time. The API is open to all web developers.

NOTE TO EDITOR: For whatever reason, the GIF saves fine on my computer, but won't animate when I upload it here. Tried in Windows and Linux, with Chrome, MS Edge, Firefox, Opera, Vivaldi, Pale Moon, and Midori. Also tried in Chrome on my phone. I don't have a Chrome OS or Mac machine available.

 

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