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Can AI Fight Hate Online? BGU Research Says it Can

Can AI Fight Hate Online? BGU Research Says it Can

February 23, 2023

Homeland & Cyber Security, Robotics & High-Tech

J. The Jewish News of Northern California — Oren Tsur, an expert on artificial intelligence and Assistant Professor of the Department of Software & Information Systems Engineering at BGU, is more than just a little excited these days. “Really, every research or project I’m involved with currently I think is super exciting,” the Israeli researcher said. “And I could talk about it for hours.”

Oren Tsur, Assistant Professor of BGU’s Department of Software and Information System Engineering and Chair of the Center for the Study of Digital Politics and Strategy

Tsur is an expert on using AI to analyze — and hopefully mitigate — hate speech and misinformation online. He’s in the Bay Area this week where he will participate in a panel on AI at the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto. The Feb. 23 event, open to the public, is co-sponsored by Americans for Ben-Gurion University and the Jewish High Tech Community, a networking organization in Silicon Valley. Nir Peled, a general manager in the field of artificial intelligence at Intel, will moderate the panel, which will also feature Eric Amram, CEO of the event-planning software company Evenium.

Tsur will discuss his research and what can be done to make the internet a safer space for open, constructive communication. “We don’t want people to agree, we just want to maybe stop polarization,” he said. Tsur’s research uses computer algorithms to understand how misinformation, propaganda and hate speech spread on the internet, whether planted deliberately — such as with Russian misinformation about Ukraine — or evolving naturally as extremists find each other and organize online.

Tsur’s home university, Ben-Gurion, has recently launched an interdisciplinary center where sociologists, linguists and AI experts can work together to understand antisemitism, hate speech, bias and misinformation. Tsur is the center’s chair. “Maybe the most significant avenue of research that’s going to happen there is about election interference and how states, nation-states, are weaponizing social media,” he said. “It could be for election interference or for just disinformation propaganda. We see it a lot in the war in Ukraine now.”

“There are so many technological changes in recent years that provide attackers more power to do things more efficiently or in a more covert way,” he said. “But also for us, we have stronger tools to try and detect and mitigate. So it’s a cat-and-mouse thing. I don’t think it’s going to stop.”

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