Online gaming is serving as a testbed for new AI functions

New research is focusing on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) technologies to be implemented to tackle online abuse and hate speech in a more responsible way. The research is led by Professor Kalina Bontcheva from the university’s Department of Computer Science, and this project will be paying attention to current AI technologies that are being used in the gaming industry to detect these situations. The project was launched in collaboration with Wendy Hui Kyong Chun of Simon Fraser University in Canada, and they will be focused on AI and NLP methods used not only in the gaming industry but also in the hate speech targeting politicians on social media.

The idea of observing these methods is to gather enough information to develop new AI algorithms that are truly effective, fair and unbiased. The research is focused on making these new algorithms to consider the context in each situation and that respects language differences that are found in different communities or groups of populations, as well, such as race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality.

Current AI systems operating in the gaming industry use rather rigid definitions of what abusive language is and ironically end up creating new forms of discrimination such as bias-based on sex, gender, ethnicity, culture, religion, political affiliation, or identity, among others.

“We are developing novel AI and NLP methods to address the problem while also developing a substantial program of training for academics and early career researchers to build capacity and expertise in this key area of research,” said Bontcheva. “There has been a huge increase in the level of abuse and hate speech online in recent years, and this has left governments and social media platforms struggling to deal with the consequences.”

This project intends to make this AI technology open source, so it can be used as part of a strategy to tackle abuse and hate speech. By starting with the gaming industry, it is able to capture vast amounts of data that will ultimately make it more effective and be used in online gaming, as well.