Intel, A 'White Nationalism' Slider Ain't It

Illustration for article titled Intel, A 'White Nationalism' Slider Ain't It
Image: Intel

Intel gave a presentation at GDC a few weeks back, but I’m guessing nobody actually watched it because it took until this week for anyone to notice this absolutely absurd pitch from the company, which wants to use AI to monitor and censor “hate speech” in your online voice chat, and let users toggle just how much hate they want to hear.

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It’s a service launching later this year called Bleep, which “is a user-facing application that uses AI to detect and redact audio based on user preferences. Which basically means it will monitor audio as it comes out of your system, and mute/beep your speakers or headphones when it detects bad words.

It’ll detect those words using AI, but it’s the user preferences part of this that is the most hilarious/horrifying. Here’s a look at Bleep’s backend settings, and it is a technological hellscape.

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Image: Intel

Feel free to fine tune! Would you like to hear people body-shaming you? Oh, you would? But only a little? OK, sure!

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Image: Intel

So many choices! I deeply appreciate the fact I can only hear someone screaming white nationalist taunts down a microphone “most” of the time—sometimes you need a break, after all!—and will be thinking very hard about whether I want to toggle that N-word switch to its “on” or “off” position.

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It’s ghastly that something like this ever left a whiteboard, let alone made it all the way into a major presentation, but then we’re years past the point where we should be expecting companies like Intel to think about anything except ways it can waste millions trying to use its own technology to combat deeply human problems.

Maybe there was a good intention here at some point. Letting people enjoy a safer online experience is, after all, a very good thing! But this, this is not the way to do it. Hateful speech is something that needs to be educated and fought, not toggled on a settings screen.

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You can watch the presentation at around the 29:30 mark in the video below (though it should autoplay at that point if you click on it anyway).

Luke Plunkett is a Senior Editor based in Canberra, Australia. He has written a book on cosplay, designed a game about airplanes, and also runs cosplay.kotaku.com.

DISCUSSION

Sorry Luke, I don’t agree with you. Settings like this look ridiculous on the surface but make more sense if you look at it from a “not a straight white guy” perspective. Yes hate speech needs to be confronted at every turn, but some non-white people use the n-word in non-racist ways. Some fat people (myself included) make jokes about their bodies. So just having a service that turns off that speech doesn’t work. Ok, so why have it at all? Well, it’s also ok for people on the internet to just filter that kind of speech out. Sure, yes, it should be confronted, but from what you know of the internet, is that something that you think will generally be fruitful? Is it not OK for someone to just sit down and game online and not have to hear some kid (or adult) screaming obscenities on the comms? I think this service is pretty much genius.