Biden admin funding AI research to detect and censor "microaggressions"

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Here’s one part of the nearly $2 trillion American Rescue Plan passed last year that few people apparently read. The bill included more than half a million dollars in grants for tech researchers to develop artificial intelligence algorithms capable of identifying and suppressing “microaggressions” in social media posts. Part of the money was quietly gifted to researchers at the University of Washington earlier this year and they expect to receive the rest of it in coming years as the development work proceeds. You may find yourself wondering how the federal government wound up handing out taxpayer money to develop ways to automatically censor the free speech of its citizens. It’s a great question. (Free Beacon)

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The Biden administration is set to dole out more than $550,000 in grants to develop an artificial intelligence model that can automatically detect and suppress microaggressions on social media, government spending records show.

The award, funded through President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, was granted to researchers at the University of Washington in March to develop technologies that could be used to protect online users from discriminatory language. The researchers have already received $132,000 and expect total government funding to reach $550,436 over the next five years.

The researchers are reportedly trying to develop a deep-language learning model that will be able to “detect implicit bias and microaggressions, commonly defined as slights that cause offense to members of marginalized groups.” Of course, as with everything else in the social justice playbook, the people exercising the power and control get to define what qualifies as a supposed microaggression. For example, the program would absolutely ignore a post saying that white males should not be hired for certain jobs. But as the linked report suggests, praising the idea of meritocracy could be flagged as “triggering” to some liberals and would likely be suppressed.

Given what we’ve recently learned about how multiple government agencies and Democratic political campaigns have been teaming up with social media to censor conservatives, perhaps this news doesn’t seem all that surprising. But that doesn’t make it okay, either. As citizens, you all have the right to engage in free speech (or not to) if you wish. What you absolutely do not have is a right to never be “offended.” And given the growing, massive list of words and ideas that are deemed “offensive” on the left these days, that algorithm is going to be working overtime.

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Speaking of which, even if you somehow think this scheme is a good idea or even constitutional, how much faith are you going to place in this sort of AI if it has to monitor everyone on all of the social media platforms? Researchers have been working on these massive language AI models for a while now and even some of the more popular ones have produced less than impressive” results, to put it charitably. Sure, you could train it to look for a specific list of words and banish posts containing them, but nearly all words have varying shades of meaning and are used in different contexts. To really act as the Ministry of Truth and the Thought Police, this AI will need to be able to detect subtlety and correctly interpret the usage of language. Thus far, even the best models have seemed woefully short of the mark.

In a best-case scenario, the AI will end up missing much of the “bad thoughts” that liberals want it to suppress. In a worst-case scenario, it will start deleting vast swaths of posts with nothing offensive in them, perhaps even the posts of its liberal masters. But, again, that’s really not the point. It’s not that the tech may not be up to the task. The real issue is that they shouldn’t be attempting this at all.

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