NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — As artificial intelligence (AI) expands its impact on the world and online, scholars at Vanderbilt University are discussing ways to use the system to combat hate speech.
Scholars within the Vanderbilt community along with researchers, free speech, and human rights activists and lawyers are taking part in a two-day symposium on AI and its role in hate speech.
“They can generate a lot of speech and that can be a good thing, but they can also generate speech that might be harmful, offensive, or disinformation,” said Jacob Mchangama, the executive director of the Future of Free Speech Project at the university.
Mchangama is helping lead the larger conversation at this event ,exploring ways that research in Middle Tennessee can be helpful in solving possible issues with artificial intelligence and its ability to detect and create hate speech in the online space.
“One of the initiatives that we’re working on with the data scientist department here at Vanderbilt is working on a model called ‘freqilizer,’ inspired by my set of the ideas around Frederick Douglas, is that the best remedy against hatred, against racial discrimination, against racism is not to censor it, but to fight it through speech.”
Researchers are developing this model with hopes that it can be used by people and civil society groups like unions, churches, and other non-governmental agencies to counter hate speech. Officials see it as a possible solution to having to ask big tech companies to remove content from platforms which could end up infringing on other types of free speech.
Mchangama explained how the resource will operate.
“You can say, ‘This is my background,’ ‘These are my core beliefs,’ ‘I want to use counter speech say in the voice of a comedian,’ so I want to push back against racism through humor for instance, and which might be effective in certain ways. I hope that civil society organizations here in Tennessee and the Nashville area will be interested in working with it when, if they for instance, deal with hate speech sort of as a way for empowering those who are on the receiving end.”
The Future of Free Speech Project started at Vanderbilt in April, but its leaders said as they continue to build the “frequilizer” that it will have a positive impact in the AI revolution.
“We want to ensure that we do our best to create a framework that supercharges the mission for bringing good to the world and also to this area,” said Mchangama.