This is software to save lives. Facebook’s brand-new “proactive detection” artificial intelligence technology will scan all posts for motifs of suicidal guess, and when required transmit mental health resources to the user at risk or their friends, or contact local first-responders. By employing AI to flag worrisome posts to human moderators instead of waiting for consumer reports, Facebook can lessen how long it takes to send help.
Facebook previously tested using AI to see troubling positions and more prominently surface suicide reporting alternatives to friends in the U.S. Now Facebook is will scour all types of content around the world with this AI, except in the European Union, where General Data Protection Regulation privacy constitutions on profiling consumers based on sensitive information complicate the use of this tech.
Facebook also will use AI to prioritize specially risky or urgent user reports so they’re more rapidly addressed by moderators, and tools to instantly surface neighbourhood expression resources and first-responder contact info. It’s likewise dedicating more moderators to suicide prevention, teaching them to deal with the cases 24/7, and now has 80 local partners like Save.org, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Forefront from which to provide resources to at-risk users and their networks.
“This is about shaving off times at every single step of the process, particularly in Facebook Live, ” says VP of product management Guy Rosen. Over the recent months of testing, Facebook has initiated more than 100 “wellness checks” with first-responders inspecting affected customers. “There have been cases where the first-responder has arrived and the person is still broadcasting.”
The idea of Facebook proactively searching the content of people’s posts could trigger some dystopian anxieties about how else the technology could be applied. Facebook didn’t have answers about how it would avoid scanning for political disagreement or petty violation, with Rosen simply saying “we have an opportunity to help here so we’re going to invest in that.” There are certainly massive beneficial aspects about the technology, but it’s another space where we have little option but to hope Facebook doesn’t go too far.
[ Update: Facebook’s chief security officer Alex Stamos responded to these concerns with a heartening tweet signaling that Facebook does are serious about responsible application of AI.
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